WEDC approves $3 billion Foxconn contract

Wisconsin’s jobs agency approved the Foxconn contract Wednesday afternoon to give nearly $3 billion taxpayer dollars to bring the Taiwanese tech giant to Mount Pleasant.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation voted 8-2 to finalize the contract. The two no votes came from Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Dana Wachs and Sen. Tim Carpenter. 

Tensions were high in the WEDC boardroom as protesters erupted in the open-session portion of the meeting. A few protesters called on the WEDC board to halt the vote and release the Foxconn contract to the public. 

Carpenter of Milwaukee motioned for the board to vote on the Foxconn contract in public, however, his request was denied. WEDC leaders immediately went into closed session and police escorted everyone else out of the room. WEDC CEO Mark Hogan said the vote happened behind closed doors because the contract is still open to negotiations until it is signed by both parties - the state of Wisconsin and Foxconn executives. 

Earlier in the day, WEDC allowed TODAY’S TMJ4 to get a sneak peek at the contract. A new development is all $2.85 billion in taxpayer incentives is tied to job requirements. For example, by 2022, Foxconn plans to fulfill its goal of having 13,000 full-time employees at the manufacturing plant. The contract requires Foxconn to have at least 5,020 employees who make an average salary of $53,800 by then. The contract requires the flat screen manufacturing plant to employ at least 10,040 people at year ten of the contract. 

The contract lists claw-backs for the state to get money back if Foxconn doesn’t meet certain jobs requirements. Foxconn CEO Terry Ghou said he’s so confident, he’s personally guaranteeing a portion of that out of his own pocket if job targets aren’t met.  

“Having someone personally guarantee something is significant and to have Terry personally guarantee this, I think it really speaks to the level of confidence he has that this is going to be a great investment, not just for him, but for the state of Wisconsin as well,” said WEDC CEO Mark Hogan.  

“I think we need to be accountable for taxpayer dollars and I think $3 billion into one industry that’s prone to technological changes is too much,” said Wachs.

The contract does not allow the state to get money back through claw-backs after the 15 year deal. That means if Foxconn decides to fully automate operations in 2033, there would be no repercussions for going from 13,000 employees down to zero. 

Gov. Scott Walker announced he will sign the contract on Friday. 

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