Foxconn planning to buy land for innovation centers later this year

Foxconn plans to acquire property for its “innovation centers” later this year, a spokesman said after Dems raised questions regarding the company’s commitments outstate.

A question regarding innovation centers was one of many from Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz and Rep. Dana Wachs at a news conference yesterday regarding what they characterize as Foxconn’s “changing” investments.

“Why is Gov. Walker announcing innovation centers in Green Bay and Eau Claire, yet nobody there has heard anything about purchase price, economic justification, or when there will be a closing other than it will happen after the election?” Hintz asked.

Foxconn spokesman Evan Zeppos is declining to disclose purchase prices for the properties in Eau Claire and Green Bay, and isn’t giving a concrete hiring timeline, except to say the company will announce hiring plans after its human resources plan is finalized.

Foxconn previously announced it would hire about 200 employees at a Green Bay center and 150 in Eau Claire.

Hintz in a letter to WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan yesterday asked for clarifications on hiring timelines for the innovation centers.

Hintz and Wachs continued to criticize the Walker administration and WEDC for touting Foxconn’s commitment to creating 13,000 jobs given the company’s plans to first construct a smaller facility than originally planned.

Hintz, D-Oshkosh, shared with media a Foxconn jobs analysis from June 2017 he received through a public records request that shows the smaller facility would directly hire 5,200 while the larger one would directly hire about 8,800.

But WEDC spokesman Mark Maley pointed out the size of Foxconn’s initial investment had increased after the June 2017 figures referenced by Hintz were produced.

Hogan in a letter to Hintz yesterday reassured him the contract with Foxconn requires the company to meet minimum annual job creation levels to receive tax credits.

“WEDC’s contract clearly contains provisions that ensure the taxpayers’ investment is protected,” Hogan wrote. “The contract also provides the company the flexibility to make the necessary business decisions to ensure the success of the project.”

Under the contract, in order to fully collect job tax credits — equal to 17 percent of wages for eligible full-time employees — Foxconn is required to create 1,040 jobs this year and 13,000 jobs by 2022. The capital investment tax credits would also be allocated in a similar “pay as you grow” manner, per the contract.

Zeppos said the company remains committed to creating and maintaining 13,000 jobs in its facility. And Foxconn Louis Woo recently told the Racine Journal Times the company plans to create 13,000 jobs by 2023.

While the company earlier this summer backed away from its original plans to build a larger “Generation 10.5” facility and opt for a smaller “Generation 6” factory, Zeppos said Foxconn is still planning to construct an “advanced fabrication” facility after completion of its first phase, and said it will depend on market and economic conditions whether the facility ends up being a Generation 10.5 facility.

“The commitment to 13,000 jobs and a $10 billion remains, regardless of the decision,” he said.

Zeppos didn’t immediately respond whether any third-party manufacturers plan to build a facility to supply glass or other materials for the Foxconn supply chain.