Gov. Evers, Foxconn reach new agreement regarding Mount Pleasant project
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- After more than a year of negotiations, Governor Tony Evers and Foxconn Technology Group announced they have reached a new agreement regarding what the company’s new role will be in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board of directors is schedule to approve the new deal Tuesday afternoon, where Foxconn will be offered fewer tax credits than what was originally agreed upon, according to a release by Gov. Evers' office. The governor’s office provided no further details on the new agreement.
“I’ve said all along that my goal as governor would be to find an agreement that works for Wisconsin taxpayers while providing the support Foxconn needs to be successful here in our state,” said Gov. Evers in a statement.
Setting up new terms with Foxconn has been in the works for months after the company drastically scaled back their plans for the manufacturing facility near Mount Pleasant. The giant tech company once promised to build a $10 billion facility and hire up to 13,000 employees. In return, the state offered nearly $4 billion in state and local tax credits under the original contract struck by then Governor Scott Walker in 2017.
"Foxconn began formal negotiations with a desire to lower taxpayer liability in exchange for the flexibility to pursue business opportunities [that] meet market demand," according to Foxconn Board Chairman Jay Lee, who was mentioned in Evers' statement.
Foxconn has not received any tax credits from the state since the company never followed through on their original agreement. Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), who sits on the WEDC board, said he was encouraged by the new deal and hopes the contract will look much different than it did years ago.
“Foxconn hasn’t been really transparent and I think this an opportunity for them to be straight up with what a viable project would look like,” said Hintz. “We’re going to have a more accountable and transparent deal that can help create jobs, but also save taxpayers money.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement he “looks forward to seeing the details of the new agreement and hope(s) it allows the company flexibility to adapt to a quickly changing marketplace.”
Senator Van Wanggard (R-Racine) was pleased to hear about a new agreement, stating in a statement, “Foxconn seeking to amend their existing agreement to allow for greater flexibility, growth, and stability in this rapidly changing post-pandemic environment shows their commitment to Wisconsin and the southeast Wisconsin area.”
Those in the technology sector celebrated the announcement after the company for years received backlash for failing to reach its commitments.
“It’s really good to see it’s moving forward,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “There were some major disruptions along the way, the world economy was certainly shaken up by COVID-19, there were trade issues that emerged and I think that may have affected this as well.”
Mordecai Lee, a professor emeritus at UW-Milwaukee believes it’s still possible the new contract might need to be adjusted in the future “not because of the lack of an agreement, but because the reality of high tech might change from right under our feet.”
Racine County and the Village of Mount Pleasant officials said they “are pleased the state and Foxconn have reached an agreement and look forward to continued progress on the campus in Racine County.”