Kenosha is out of the running for the Foxconn project, upping Racine County’s chances to land the Taiwanese manufacturing plant.
Mayor John Antaramian notified Gov. Scott Walker in a letter on Monday that the city of Kenosha was withdrawing its bid, saying the “current status” of the legislation makes the city unable to “support and/or absorb the development of the Project.”
“Yeah it’s a tough decision, but the job I have here is to protect the city of Kenosha, that is my first responsibility,” he told reporters at a news conference yesterday. “I do believe Foxconn is a wonderful opportunity for the region, but for us with the way the language reads, it doesn’t quite work, and that was our concern.”
Antaramian, a former state lawmaker, said Foxconn was eyeing one location in Kenosha County in the town of Paris, west of I-94 north-south. The company has also been eyeing sites in Racine County.
Antaramian said Foxconn has a specific location in mind for Racine County, but M.T. Boyle, chief of staff for Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, said he “cannot confirm or deny” that just a single location in the county is left in the running.
In a separate statement, Boyle said he’s “hopeful that Foxconn will choose to call Racine County home.”
“We may have a chance to transform our region, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for Racine County, and we are hard at work to capitalize on that chance in a well thought-out, careful, and conservative way that makes Racine County highly desirable, while maintaining our commitment to the taxpayers of our great County,” he said.
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement that “it appears as though the City of Kenosha’s leadership decided to send a letter after stories last week suggested the campus will be in Racine County,” he added.
And Racine Mayor Dennis Wiser said while the city has “no involvement whatsoever” in the Foxconn negotiations, it seemed the county had landed the deal.
“I would say based on what we’ve been hearing all along, this would say that Foxconn is coming to Racine,” he said.
But Antaramian told reporters if he knew Kenosha had “lost, I’d say nothing,” adding that his concern was if Foxconn did choose Kenosha and the existing language remained, the area wouldn’t be able to follow through on the services or commitment outlined.
Meanwhile, Antaramian’s letter highlighted three key issues the city has with the language in the Foxconn bill.
That includes: no guarantee tax incremental finance funds would be used for the water utility without passing off potential increases onto consumers; a lack of TIF funding to support the full hiring of additional police officers and firefighters to cover the Foxconn site; and the wording surrounding the incorporation process.
Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, fired back in a separate letter, saying even though he’s been in constant contact with local officials about Foxconn, Antaramian’s letter “is literally the first comment I have received from the city of Kenosha.”
Wanggaard also said lawmakers addressed specific communities’ concerns in crafting the proposal.
“It is disappointing that you have decided to turn your back on housing thousands of jobs in your city at the last minute, but that is your prerogative,” he wrote. “The legislature and the rest of the region has had tremendous cooperation in attempting to land Foxconn. Your missive to Governor Walker, and the fact that, technically, I still have not heard directly from the city shows you chose not to participate in that cooperation.”
Antaramian told reporters yesterday that he spoke with Wanggaard on the phone and apologized for not speaking with him. Instead, he said, the city had communicated privately with the Walker administration and specific legislators, including Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Alberta Darling, to share their concerns over the past few weeks. He also spoke publicly at an Aug. 22 hearing about the issues.
See the city of Kenosha’s letter:
See Wanggaard’s letter: