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Foxconn qualifies for third round of state subsidies for scaled-down development

'There was never going to be a project that was going to create 13K jobs,' says one former state representative

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A glass globe on Foxconn's campus.
Cars are parked near a globe at the Foxconn campus Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Mount Pleasant, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Foxconn has qualified for a third round of state subsidies for its development in Mount Pleasant, bringing the total amount it’s been approved to receive up to nearly $44 million.

Last month, Foxconn was given notice it would receive a little more than $6.3 million in state tax credits for the 2022 fiscal year, down about $2.3 million from the previous year, according to documents obtained through an open records request. That $6.3 million is broken down into roughly $4.1 million for job creation and about $2.2 million for capital investment.

By the end of 2022, documents show Foxconn had created 1,029 jobs, up from 768 jobs in 2021. It also invested about $26 million in buildings and equipment last year.

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In a statement, Foxconn Technology Group said the company remains “committed to Wisconsin” and plans to continue growing in the state. As of 2023, Foxconn says it has spent over $1 billion in Wisconsin, and one-fifth of its U.S. workforce is located in the state.

“Foxconn currently manufactures data servers and microinverters in Wisconsin, and the campus remains a strategic asset for the company,” the statement said.

The subsidies come after the state renegotiated its contract with Foxconn in 2021, scaling it back from the original pact signed in 2017 by former Gov. Scott Walker. That agreement would have given nearly $3 billion in credits to the company, which was promising to hire 13,000 employees. The current agreement — reworked after Foxconn acknowledged it would not move forward on its original plans — offers up to $80 million for 1,454 jobs and $672 million in investment.

Former Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hint said the revised contract, signed by Gov. Tony Evers, is “the same kind of deal” awarded to other businesses in Wisconsin.

“The amount awarded is more in line with what we see other businesses that add jobs receive in Wisconsin,” he said. “The ultimate promise was a fallacy. I mean, there was never going to be a project that was going to create 13,000 jobs.”

While Foxconn’s plans for a large-scale development haven’t panned out, additional development will be coming to the village of Mount Pleasant.

Late last month, village officials approved Microsoft’s purchase of more than 1,000 acres originally meant for Foxconn. Microsoft plans to build at least four data centers, and has guaranteed a minimum assessed value of $1.4 billion by 2028. That plan is an expansion of its previously announced project investing $1 billion in a single data center. Construction of that building is already underway.

Despite the new investment, Microsoft’s plan is likely to include only a fraction of the jobs Foxconn initially promised.

Hintz said he was encouraged to learn about Microsoft’s development. He said the site is “a valuable piece of land” that’s got “a lot of overbuilt infrastructure” developed for an initial plan that was never going to come to fruition.

“We want to see a viable project, we want it to be something that helps not just the region, but, hopefully, the whole state of Wisconsin,” he said. “There are lessons that have been learned that, hopefully, demonstrate and remind us that you can’t buy economic development.”

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