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Lt. Governor Kleefisch talks trade mission and hopes for Foxconn deal

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is back from a week-long trade mission to Mexico. She brought three Wisconsin companies with her and she says two came home with deals.

During an exclusive TV interview with CBS 58 Morning News Anchor Jessica Tighe, Kleefisch said one of the companies that returned with a signed contract is Corncob, a water technology start-up based in Waukesha.

“Most folks will tell you don't drink the water (in Mexico). Brush your teeth with bottled water. Don't gulp down big swallows as you take a shower. So if these are the conditions under which travelers expect to operate when they're in Mexico, imagine living there. So they have water issues and we brought with us a water company that had technology that was highly impressive," Kleefisch said.

Renard’s Cheese of Sturgeon Bay and Algoma also scored a deal for new business in Mexico.

Brandtjen and Kluge, a manufacturer of specialty print finishing and converting equipment, went on the trade mission as well. Kleefisch said the St. Croix Falls company is in the middle of a bidding process.

Mexico is the second-largest export market for Wisconsin produced goods.

“We do about $3.1 billion in trade with Mexico every year,” Kleefisch noted. She said it’s an ideal market for Wisconsin companies because of shared interests in our economy: manufacturing and agriculture.

The next trade mission to Mexico is already scheduled with WEDC. Kleefisch says it will be in January/February.

Tighe also asked the Lieutenant Governor whether there are any new developments on the state’s talks with Foxconn. The Taiwan-based company, which assembles iPhones and other electronics, is considering building a plant in Wisconsin.

While Kleefisch said there are no new developments, she emphasized the push to hopefully hook the company.

“We are being very aggressive in our plans to assure we are putting together the very best package and presentation. But frankly, one of the things we can offer to a Foxconn or any company that’s considering a large investment in our state is long-term security and stability, something that a lot of other states cannot offer,” Kleefisch said.

Foxconn could employ as many as 50,000 people in the U.S.

Tighe asked, “What will it ultimately take to get this deal done?”

Kleefisch said a lot of it is about relationship building.

“When you’re working with someone with a location and headquarters outside of your borders, then sometimes that personal relationship building is one of the most essential things you can imagine,” she said.

Kleefisch said she met with Foxconn during a mission to Japan and Taiwan a few years ago. She also said Governor Scott Walker has met with the company a couple of times this year already.

“Face-to-face meetings are very important especially if you’re looking to convey values of security and stability, of quality and value,” she said.

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