Foxconn deal to raise state’s profile for venture investment

Ripple effects from the Foxconn deal will raise the state’s profile for venture investment, says Department of Administration Secretary Scott Nietzel.

He spoke as part of a panel at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Future Wisconsin Summit yesterday in Madison.

“With Foxconn saying, ‘We want to be in Wisconsin, here’s the ecosystem that we want to build,’ that’s going to attract a lot of venture capital into the state,” he said. “We’re already seeing a lot of talk about venture capital re-looking at Wisconsin or looking at Wisconsin for the first time.”

And though Democrats and environmental groups have voiced concerns about the impact of building a high-tech manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin, Foxconn Special Assistant Louis Woo says the company is committed to maintaining the state’s beauty and pristine condition.

“Just like wherever we go, we are upholding the highest standard for environmental protection,” Woo said.

Nietzel sees a clear commitment from both sides to ensure the development will be “environmentally as benign as humanly possible.”

“This flows right down from Chairman Terry Gou,” he said. “I was with the chairman on a site visit, and he was emphatic about the environmental quality that is going to be around this investment.”

To those saying the state is “taking the reigns off” when it comes to Foxconn’s environmental impact, Neitzel countered: “That’s simply not true.”

“What we’re doing here is actually — as far as wetland mitigation and replacement — is more than the state has ever done before,” he said.

Mark Hogan, WEDC secretary and CEO, says WEDC can help companies make connections, starting with the construction phase of the development.

“We do have a website out there now for supply chain in the state, and I think that’s been very active,” he said. “To the extent that you or your companies, people that you know that have supplies, business opportunities for Foxconn, get in touch with us, and we’ll try to make those connections and make sure that the people are in the meetings at the right time.”

While the opportunity will be there for certain companies to get in on the action, Woo emphasized the importance of patience as the project is still in its initial stages.

“There’s a lot we need to prepare, and so if you send us an email asking for a meeting, we might not be able to reply immediately,” he said. “Just be patient.”

–By Alex Moe