Foxconn deal faces public hearing

A site for Foxconn’s southeastern Wisconsin manufacturing plant is expected to be picked within the next couple of weeks, according to the secretary of Wisconsin Economic Development (WEDC).

“This is a once in a century opportunity for the state,” said WEDC CEO Mark Hogan. “We can not let this opportunity pass us by.”

Business leaders, state agencies and lawmakers met at the statehouse Thursday to discuss the deal in a public hearing.

“Foxconn is ready to go,” said Hogan.

Hogan said just one hurdle is standing in Wisconsin’s way, a taxpayer-funded incentive package. State legislators need to pass a $3 billion Foxconn bill to get the tech giant to the Badger state. The state’s financial contribution would be paid over 15 years.

“Our objective was not to get a deal, our objective was to get a good deal for Wisconsin,” said Hogan.

Rep. Amanda Stuck raised her concerns as to why $3 billion taxpayer dollars was offered.

“Why do we have to be held ransom when they already have reasons to come here?” she said.

“In this case it was a good option to bring them here,” Hogan said.

The proposed manufacturing plant would employ up to 13,000.

Representatives pressed for answers on a number of issues including starting wages. WEDC said Foxconn would pay an entry level employee $20 an hour, that adds up $41,600 a year. Hogan explained these are skilled positions.

“This is not assembly, this is high tech manufacturing,” he said. “They are going to need people who know how to operate machines.”

10,000 construction workers would be needed to build the thousand acre facility.

“I want to guarantee that as many construction workers from Wisconsin are getting these jobs,” said Rep. Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee.

“We will fill as much as we can with Wisconsin workers, but naturally we will look elsewhere,” Hogan said.

Foxconn did not have a representative at the public hearing. A statement from the Taiwanese corporation was read at the public hearing.

After invited speakers ended their session of the hearing, members of the public were allowed to ask questions. The Foxconn bill is expected to be voted on in the full assembly later this month. The deal requires the state to pass the incentive package by the end of September.

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