WED AM News: Foxconn deal positive for state economy; DATCP launches more Wisconsin product boxes

— Foxconn Technology Group is confident a new agreement with Wisconsin will attract other businesses to the state. 

The new deal slashes the maximum tax credits the company could earn while providing more flexibility after plans for the southeastern Wisconsin plant were dramatically scaled back.

Under the new agreement, Foxconn could qualify for $80 million in state assistance if it creates 1,454 jobs and invests $672 million in its Mount Pleasant operation by Dec. 31, 2025, Gov. Tony Evers’ office said.

“Our new agreement signals to the United States and international business communities that our Science and Technology Park still benefits from unique advantages that make Wisconsin, and our Park, an attractive place to call home, drive business, and grow jobs,” the company said in a release. “With elected officials supporting Foxconn’s investments in Wisconsin, and with the right market demand, we are confident other Foxconn affiliates, joint ventures, and non-affiliates will soon also look to Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still had similar sentiments. Ahead of the unanimous WEDC Board decision to approve the agreement, Still said Foxconn’s presence in Mount Pleasant will help meet the national challenge of onshoring. 

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— Evers hailed the new contract with Foxconn as a “better deal for our state.”

The original deal called for the company to receive up to $3 billion from the state in return for creating 13,000 jobs and investing $10 billion. But Foxconn had already fallen behind the minimum job creation requirements to qualify for state assistance.

The Evers administration had informed the company in October it wouldn’t qualify for any credits until a new contract was reached because the original scale of the project had been reduced so dramatically.

The company originally planned to produce flat screens as large as garage doors at what former President Trump vowed would be the “eighth wonder of the world.” But the company began scaling down the vision for the plant not long after plans were first announced.

Evers’ office also said the deal would allow Foxconn to qualify for the tax incentives without specific requirements as to what it produces or manufactures, similar to other deals, so long as it meets the hiring and capital investment targets. The company has frequently revised what it might produce at the plant.

The company praised the deal for giving it “the flexibility to pursue business opportunities in response to changing global market conditions. With this flexibility also comes the predictability and stability to know that Foxconn’s material contributions in Wisconsin will be recognized by the State as benchmarks are achieved year-over-year.”

Like the original contract, workers would have to earn an average wage of $53,875 for their jobs to count toward the requirement. Some of the changes include revisions to clawback provisions if Foxconn fails to live up to its end of the contract.

— After the successful holiday “Boxes of Fun” promotion, DATCP is launching a similar effort.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is launching the Something Special from Wisconsin promotion in time for Mother’s Day on May 9. To date, more than 500 boxes have been shipped as far away as California, Florida and New York.

May boxes are available in four themes featuring a variety of businesses, including Slide Gourmet Potato Chips, Ugly Apple Café, Addicting Pretzels, Palo Popcorn and Honestly Cranberry. Participating businesses ensure that half of the product or service is attributable to Wisconsin ingredients, production or processing activities.

“It is more important than ever to support Wisconsin businesses, and Something Special from Wisconsin™ is just one way to do that,” said Program Director Lois Federman. “Each dollar spent is an investment in not only a local business, but also in Wisconsin’s economy.”

Purchase a box online: 

— The Wisconsin Startup Coalition said its inaugural Advocacy Week was a success.

The coalition serves as the voice of Wisconsin’s startup founders. Over 20 founders and investors met with more than 30 legislative offices. WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes also updated the coalition on the agency’s efforts to support startups.

Wisconsin Startup Coalition Co-founder Matt Cordio told he hopes the Legislature will advance policies to attract more highly skilled talent to the state. That was one of the topics members stressed to legislators throughout Advocacy Week. 

In addition, the coalition wants to reform existing incentive programs to attract more angel and venture capital investment in high-growth startups.

— Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has teamed up with Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun in introducing a bill to rebuild stronger roads and bridges after extreme weather.

A federal highway emergency relief program gives dollars to states to rebuild roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods and other disasters. Baldwin, D-Madison, argues that too often, infrastructure is rebuilt to pre-disaster specifications, leaving roads and bridges vulnerable to another disaster.

Both Wisconsin and Indiana have been hard hit with extreme weather, such as flooding and tornados, that have washed out roads and damaged highways and bridges, the senators said.

The Rebuilding Stronger Infrastructure Act would ensure that resilience improvements are eligible for federal money. It requires the Federal Highway Administration to provide states with the tools needed to rebuild infrastructure that is more resilient to the next severe weather event, saving taxpayer dollars.

“As extreme weather becomes more and more frequent, we need to empower states and local communities to build stronger and more reliant roads and bridges that can withstand the next storm or natural disaster,” Baldwin said.

— Last week the bipartisan Midwestern duo also introduced the Made in America Act to strengthen Buy America requirements for the federal government. 

The aim of the legislation is to support U.S. businesses, notably manufacturers, and workers.

— The Green New Deal circulating the House of Representatives sparked concern for Wisconsin’s ag economy from Republican U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil and Mike Gallagher.

The two cited a report from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that the deal would result in $200 million in losses to Wisconsin farmers. Gallagher, R-Allouez, dubbed it an “absolute disaster” for Wisconsin.

“The Green New Deal would especially harm manufacturing in Wisconsin, punish our dairy industry, and increase costs on families,” Steil, R-Janesville, warned. “We must focus on creating jobs and reopening our economy, not imposing unrealistic, anti-agriculture, anti-job mandates that spend trillions of dollars we don’t have.”

In replacement of the Green New Deal, Gallagher called for an “all-of-the-above” energy approach to preserve the environment. 

“That includes both empowering the Northeast Wisconsin farmers already implementing carbon-reducing practices and supporting projects like the Keystone Pipeline that are better for the environment and create good-paying jobs,” Gallagher said.

— The state reported 805 new COVID-19 cases coming into today and eight new deaths from the virus.

But the seven-day average of confirmed cases fell to 714 cases per day from 731.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association reports 357 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 94 intensive care unit patients. Both figures are up from the day and week before. These levels resemble February counts.

Hospitalizations started to increase in late March — a few weeks after cases started to rise. Patient numbers had been falling steadily since the census peaked in November at 2,277 COVID-19 patients. 

The state reports 8,972 active cases, 591,636 cases since the start of the pandemic and 6,718 deaths.

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— Meanwhile, vaccinations continue to increase as more than 28 percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

More than 40 percent of residents have at least started their vaccine series. More than 2.3 million people have gotten at least one dose of either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose series of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. 

More than 72 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have been fully vaccinated and nearly 80 percent have received their first dose.

Wisconsin has put more than 3.9 million shots in people’s arms. The Badger State ranks No. 2 in the nation for administering its vaccine supply, according to Bloomberg. The global database Global Change Data Lab places Wisconsin in the top 10 for COVID-19 shots administered per 100 people.

See the Wisconsin COVID-19 Timeline: 


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