MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. — Foxconn is going vertical. In the construction world that means walls are going up at its manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant.
Foxconn has faced stiff criticism and uncertainty about what and if it will ever deliver on its promise of 13,000 jobs and a $10 billion investment.
TODAYS TMJ4's Charles Benson was given a TV exclusive look at what's being built.
Foxconn is turning farm fields into a manufacturing facility that now stretches 17 football fields. Adam Jelen with Gilbane is helping them do it.
"To see it come alive like it is now, to see it come out of the ground is just super exciting," said Jelen.
More than 400 concrete precast panels - made in Wisconsin - are going up. Structural steel works begins next week. The pace is picking up with 200 construction workers now on location, and $175 million in awarded contracts.
This is not the original manufacturing plant Foxconn said it would build in the contract with the state. Foxconn is building a smaller scale facility known as a Gen 6 that is still massive in size.
Benson: What would you say to skeptics who are wondering what's going on down there and now you're building the vertical side of the building and there is going be a plant here?
Jelen: Well, first of all it's reality right behind me.
In addition to the 10 to 15 panels going up a day, work is also being done on roadways and utilizes in what is known as Area 1.
Jelen says the hope is to start turning over portions of the building to Foxconn by next spring. So far they are on schedule.
Benson: What is the goal to get this finished - so Foxconn can start transitioning into manufacturing?
Jelen: Number one we have to be building the enclosure before the elements of winter. So our goal is to get a bulk of the enclosure done by year end.
Foxconn wants to be up and manufacturing by the end of 2020.
"There is visible progress," says Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan. He is keeping a close eye on the project for the Evers Administration.
Benson: What does that mean for project when you start seeing more of the physical structure?
Brennan: It means that there is real, that the progress is real, it's visible and that's good for everybody involved.
But questions remain over how the project will evolve and what impact it will have on the state's three billion dollar taxpayer incentive contract.
"How do we evaluate that and then how do we make sure that incentives are aligned with making sure that can be successful and sustainable for everybody moving forward," said Brennan.
Foxconn does not earn state tax credits for construction jobs. Wisconsin promised Foxconn up to nearly three billion dollars in tax incentives for manufacturing jobs but Foxconn has yet to earn any of those incentives.