Boots & Sabers

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0637, 22 May 18

Foxconn begins to deliver on its promise

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

While there is still a long way to go before Wisconsinites can evaluate the full impact of the Foxconn development, so far it is proving to be the economic boon for Wisconsin that Gov. Scott Walker and other supporters of the deal predicted. The official groundbreaking ceremony will be June 28, but the work has already started.

When Walker announced the deal with Foxconn, it marked the largest economic deal the state of Wisconsin had ever struck. Liberals vacillated between bemoaning corporate welfare and declaring that Wisconsin should have gotten a better deal. Conservatives cringed at the massive amount of tax dollars involved to lure one company to Wisconsin. Walker touted the deal as a transformational economic development that would benefit Wisconsin for generations. It is possible that everyone was right, but certainly Walker deserves credit for getting it done.

Before the first shovel could be put in the ground, nearly 500 subcontractors, suppliers, service providers, vendors and other companies attended an information session hosted by Foxconn for the projected $10 billion construction project. These businesses came from all over Wisconsin and the world for the chance to participate in one of the largest construction projects in United States history.

Late last month, Foxconn began announcing the contractors that they would use. True to their word, Foxconn officials strongly favored Wisconsin companies. Ninety percent of the contracts so far have been awarded to Wisconsin companies.

In just the first phase of the project, 27 Wisconsin companies and one Illinois company are sharing $100 million to do the preparation work for the site including excavation, erosion control, soil and water testing and stormwater management. A $100 million project would already be one of Wisconsin’s largest construction projects, and that is only 1 percent of what Foxconn is planning to spend to complete the project. Furthermore, as Walker predicted, the economic benefits are not limited to southeast Wisconsin. One of those Wisconsin companies already working is a Black River Falls construction company which has been tasked with moving about 325,000 dump truck loads of dirt and installing 120,000 linear feet of sewer. That company, Hoffman Construction, has indicated that they will need to hire about 150 additional seasonal workers to handle the work.

MJM Truckin’ LLC of Nekoosa, Wood County, Panacea Group LLC of Seymour, Outagamie County, and other businesses throughout the state are already seeing money flow from Foxconn into their businesses.

The reason that all of Wisconsin will benefit from Foxconn is simple. The Foxconn project is just so incredibly huge that southeast Wisconsin does not have the people or material necessary to complete it. Not only will Foxconn need to bring in workers from all over Wisconsin, they will have to bring people from all over the world to Wisconsin to work.

A study by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce estimates that Foxconn’s new Wisconsin plant will contribute about $51 billion to the state’s economy over the next 15 years. Calculating the exact economic impact of the massive Foxconn development is inherently difficult, but Wisconsin is already seeing a ripple effect spread across the state.

All of this positive development makes the stance of some of the Democratic candidates for governor even more puzzling. While some may disagree with the deal that Walker struck with Foxconn, it is done. The contracts are signed and both sides are obligated to honor their side of the agreement. Yet some of the Democratic candidates are hoping to see it all fail and rip a hole in Wisconsin’s economy as it does.

Rep. Dana Wachs has said “we will find a way to end it.” Matt Flynn said that he will end the deal, “no matter what.” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Rep. Kelda Roys want to renegotiate the deal — whatever that means. Try to imagine a world in which one of these Democrats wins the governor’s chair and uses it to douse the Foxconn economic fire with a vat of cold water. Not only would it hobble the Foxconn economic juggernaut, but it would neuter Wisconsin’s ability to attract business for decades to come. What company CEO in his or her right mind would make a long-term commitment to Wisconsin if all it takes is a new governor to tear up the contracts?

The argument over whether or not the Foxconn deal was a good one for Wisconsin will be decided in the years to come. One would hope that whatever one thought about the terms of the deal, we could all root for it to live up to its promise. Fortunately for our state’s economy, so far it has.


0637, 22 May 2018


  1. jjf

    Not one skeptical conservative in the house?  Everyone thinks government should be picking winners and losers, and using public dollars for big bets?

  2. Kevin Scheunemann

    Why would be skeptical of Walker who has produced an all time record low unemployment rate?

    It’s an especially big accomplishment given damage Democrats did to state under Doyle and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to prosperity.

  3. Le Roi du Nord

    Foxconn is a great example of corporate socialism.

  4. Kevin Scheunemann


    Corporate socialism is giving money direct like Solyndra.   This is largely tax credits and reduced taxes.   Big difference.

    You just can’t stand mutlipled prosperity, can you?

  5. Le Roi du Nord


    Solyndra started under GWB.

    How about the $90 million taken from statewide transportation projects to be used for Foxconn infrastructure?  Or all the environmental give-aways?   And those credits and reductions have to be made up somewhere.  Foxconn was a desperation move by a desperate career politician.


  6. MHMaley

    I give you $3Billion.
    You begin spending it .
    Is that gift paying off ?

  7. kjanz1899

    Not GWB. “Solyndra received a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, the first recipient of a loan guarantee under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[16] By 2014 the loan program had wiped out its losses, including a $528 million loss from Solyndra, and was operating in the black.[17] Additionally, Solyndra received a $25.1 million tax break from California’s Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority.” Source: Wikipedia.

  8. Le Roi du Nord


    Solyndra started the application process on 12-28-06.  It will only take you seconds to verify.

    If you knew anything about wetlands you would know that artificial or created wetlands seldom result in the same functions and values as natural ones.  And they require expensive and intensive management to accomplish anything near what a natural wetland does.  Poor try.


  9. kjanz1899

    That loan application did not result in Solyndra receiving DOE money. “Obama referred to Solyndra’s loan at an Oct. 6 press conference as “a loan guarantee program that predates me.” That’s not accurate. It’s true that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created a loan guarantee program for clean-energy companies developing “innovative technologies.” But Solyndra’s loan guarantee came under another program created by the president’s 2009 stimulus for companies developing “commercially available technologies.” Source:

  10. kjanz1899

    Just to be clear no loan money was made available to Solyndra under the Bush era DOE.

  11. dad29

    So in sum:  Obama threw away the (OUR) money on Solyndra.

    And very few Conservatives think that GWB was the brightest bulb in the fixture, by the way.

  12. kjanz1899

    Dad29, correct on both points

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