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Foxconn Opening Innovation Center In Green Bay At Iconic WaterMark Along Fox River

Announcement In Green Bay Follows Ceremonial Groundbreaking Of Foxconn Campus In Southeastern Wisconsin

Foxconn sign
Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Foxconn Technology Group is expanding its Wisconsin footprint to the northeastern part of the state.

The Taiwanese tech giant building a massive manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin plans to open an innovation center at the WaterMark building in downtown Green Bay along the Fox River by later this year.

The announcement was made Friday in Green Bay with Gov. Scott Walker, Foxconn Technology Group’s top executives, and other representatives from the state, city of Green Bay and Brown County in attendance.

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The company will purchase the six-story, 75,000-square-foot iconic property and transform it into another hub in Wisconsin for Foxconn to develop state-of-the-art technology and foster entrepreneurship, Walker said Friday at the announcement along the Fox River.

The company is already building a new 20-million-square-foot, $10 billion display screen manufacturing campus in the Village of Mount Pleasant in Racine County, and earlier this year, Foxconn purchased a downtown Milwaukee building from Northwestern Mutual to house its North America corporate headquarters, as well as the headquarters of the company’s innovation network in the state.

Foxconn will employ more than 200 engineers at the innovation center in Green Bay which will support the manufacturing plant, according to a release from the company.

The move in Green Bay is an expansion of what Walker has dubbed the “Wisconn Valley,” and works to further his goal of keeping workers in the state and attracting millennials from outside Wisconsin.

Rattling off the names of universities and tech schools in the Fox Valley, Walker said the center will be a place that students can be a part of evolving technology, and is a reason to work and live in Wisconsin following graduation.

“They are going to stay in the great state of Wisconsin, and other millennials like them are going to come to the state of Wisconsin because we have some of the most exciting technology and innovation in the world, and a part of it is going to happen right here in Green Bay at this innovation center,” Walker said, gradually raising his voice in excitement.

Proponents of Foxconn’s presence in Wisconsin have touted the economic benefits of the company making itself at home in Wisconsin, but they’ve also said the manufacturing and technology to be developed at the innovation centers and the new Racine County campus will transform the health care industry, both of which Walker mentioned Friday.

“These are things that not just are going to change us in the state in terms of the economy, we have an ability with this technology to change the world and save lives right here in the state of Wisconsin because of our partnership with Foxconn and their new technology and part of that is going to be happening right here at this innovation center helping evolve and accelerate 8K and 5H technology,” Walker said.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said the company’s goal is to expand its footprint beyond southeastern Wisconsin.

“Wherever we will go in Wisconsin, we wish to become a part of the local community (and are) looking forward to the many partnerships and opportunities that will come to Green Bay,” Gou said.

Jerry Murphy, executive director of The New North — a regional economic development and marketing organization that works with 18 counties in the northeastern region — was at the announcement Friday and welcomed the decision by Foxconn to come to Green Bay.

“This is an enormous project, enormous value add for northeastern Wisconsin business perspective,” Murphy said.

“This announcement continues a relatively recent growth in the region’s investments and activities that enhance our brand value around innovation, technology, a talent that goes with that, related investments and resources needed to grow a technology economy,” Murphy later continued. “This announcement provides tangible evidence of a growing technology brand for the region with the addition of a world-recognized brand in Foxconn. Foxconn’s arrival in New North joins several others who together are building a New North tech brand.”

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said it is not getting any money from the city and the city offers amenities like an educated workforce.

The reveal on Friday follows the ceremonial groundbreaking of Foxconn’s tech campus on Thursday. President Donald Trump, along with with Walker, Gou and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, were all on hand in the Village of Mount Pleasant as the company officially began construction.

Opponents of Foxconn’s plans question the state’s commitment to provide up to $4.5 billion in local and state tax incentives to help the company and also worry about the environmental impacts of the facility in the Village of Mount Pleasant. The campus, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee, will tap Lake Michigan for water.

Editor’s note: This story was last updated at 3:06 p.m. Friday, June 29, 2018.