WEDC optimistic about Foxconn deal

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Missy Hughes said she’s optimistic about a new deal with Foxconn, but dodged on the details.

WEDC asked to work with Foxconn on a new agreement that aligns with the company’s plans for development in southeastern Wisconsin. WEDC ruled Foxconn was not eligible for $3 billion in tax credits this year after the company scrapped a plan to build a massive fabrication factory.

Ahead of a Milwaukee Press virtual panel yesterday, Hughes said WEDC’s practice is not to comment on current conversations it’s having with businesses, including Foxconn. But that didn’t stop reporters from trying to get the details of the current negotiations between the agency and the tech giant.

The factory would have brought around 13,000 jobs to the region’s economy and ripple effects on the supply chain throughout the rest of the state, Hughes said. But despite that massive project deal never arriving in the region, Hughes said the economic activity in southeastern Wisconsin is exploding.

“Southeastern Wisconsin is a powerhouse unto itself,” she said, adding that the attention to the I-94 corridor and geography has helped boost the region’s economy.

“Foxconn will be able to add to that,” she said. “We anticipate that that growth will continue and we continue to work with the communities there and the businesses there to make sure we are doing everything we can to help them grow.”

Hughes, who had last visited the Foxconn facilities in October, said she’s optimistic the tech company and WEDC will reach a new agreement through their “fruitful” conversations. But she was unable to share a timeline. She added that with a new administration in the White House, WEDC looks forward to exploring new opinions, thoughts or opportunities.

In addition to talking with Foxconn, WEDC has been in contact with Mount Pleasant and Racine County, including about the land that had been cleared of houses for Foxconn’s facilities.

“Not only is it prime real estate, it has had the infrastructure brought to it now that we have to take advantage of that,” she said. “One of the conversations that we have with the locals … is what can we do to help develop that? We want to make sure that land gets developed, nobody wants to see it sit there after having moved homes off of it. It’s incumbent on us to make it a successful piece of property and well utilized.”

That land is still a part of the Foxconn project and is a part of the conversations that WEDC is having with the company, Hughes said.

Watch the event:

-By Stephanie Hoff