MOUNT PLEASANT — The enormous Foxconn Technology Group project can now move forward.
With well over 100 invited guests looking on at the Mount Pleasant Village Hall on Friday, officials from Foxconn, the village and Racine County signed the local development agreement that seals the terms of the company’s future $10 billion manufacturing campus it plans to build here.
The Taiwanese-based company, a designer and manufacturer of liquid crystal display panels and finished products, intends to build a 32-million-square-foot manufacturing campus in the southwestern corner of Mount Pleasant, with construction scheduled to start next year. The campus is expected to employ up to 13,000 people — excluding an estimated 10,000 construction jobs and many thousands more indirect jobs.
The local development agreement, with the county and village acting as partners, outlines the responsibilities of Foxconn, Racine County and Mount Pleasant, along with guarantees and protections for taxpayers. It requires that more than half of the promised 13,000 jobs must be in Racine County.
And according to Foxconn’s contract with the State of Wisconsin, those jobs must average about $53,000 per year for Foxconn to qualify for full tax credits under the $2.85 billion incentives package.
“It’s a conservative, creative and thorough agreement, and we believe it will literally change the landscape of this county, this community and the state of Wisconsin,” said Jenny Trick, executive director of the Racine County Economic Development Corp., which led throughout the long process of putting together the Foxconn deal.
“Today we sign an agreement that will change the projection of our county for generations to come,” said Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave. “After today, this community will become home to one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the entire world.”
Referring to the process of negotiations that led to the local development agreement, Delagrave said, “Although the timeline was expedited … it was not rushed. We were careful. We were thoughtful. And we worked hard to maximize the benefits for, and to protect, Racine County residents and taxpayers.”
“One of the world’s greatest innovators makes official that they’ve chosen to invest in Racine County and call it home,” Delgrave said. “… this is a moment that demands nothing less than for us all to celebrate.”
The signing of the 33-page development agreement was a protracted process. One by one, the entire Racine County Board of Supervisors, the four Mount Pleasant trustees who could attend, and village Community Development Authority Chairman Rob Richardson all walked to the front of the large meeting room at the village hall and signed multiple copies of the development agreement. They were followed by four executives of Foxconn and three of its subsidiaries.
After all the local officials had signed the development agreement, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou, took the podium.
“We were here about six, seven weeks ago,” Woo said referring to the signing of the state incentives contract. “I considered that an engagement. And now, this is a wedding.”
Woo then drew laughter by likening the local development deal to the prenuptial agreement.
To drive home the enormity of the business partner Racine and the state have taken on, Woo said this: Add up the populations of Racine, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Appleton and Waukesha, they total about 1.3 million people.
“That’s the number of people we have at Foxconn,” Woo said.
He also gave the audience a sense of just how the gargantuan Foxconn project is only part of the story that may unfold in coming years.
“I also want to share with you that you should not look at Foxconn as a manufacturing company,” Woo said. “We’re way beyond that; we are a technology company.”
Together, Woo said, “in fact we are building a mecca, a hub, an ecosystem … we’re going to attract many more high-technology companies — either as our suppliers or simply because of the fact that there is a concentration of talents here in Racine in the years to come.”
“We are making history — we are not just a part of history,” Woo said.
Claude Lois, Foxconn project director for Mount Pleasant and former mayor of Burlington, outlined the next steps in the Foxconn project. On Tuesday, Racine County will issue about $80 million in bonds to buy land in Area I, where the company will build its manufacturing campus. That area lies between Interstate 94 and Highway H, and Highway KR and Braun Road.
The village will begin exercising purchase options with property owners, meaning letting them know it will indeed be buying their land, Lois continued. Those purchases will start closing in late January to early February. The village will also continue acquisitions needed for road projects.
And he said the village will meet with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Dec. 14 to plan for the road-widening projects the state is taking on which includes Interstate 94.
As part of the local development agreement, Foxconn agreed to deposit $60 million in the bank for Mount Pleasant to draw from for the acquisition of land in areas II and III. (Area II is for future Foxconn development and Area III is for construction staging and later, future development). Those funds are expected to be deposited by Dec. 15.
Initial construction will start next spring when frost is out of the ground, Lois said.