RACINE COUNTY — Who can predict all the ways in which a future with Foxconn would change daily life here? A few experts and industry people tried to peer into the future and talk about how the predicted jobs might be created.
According to Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, which has committed to build a plant in southeastern Wisconsin, would be the largest corporate attraction project in U.S. history measured by jobs: 13,000 Foxconn jobs and an estimated 22,000 indirect jobs. The plant would manufacture liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, for use in many kinds of products.
The $10 billion construction alone, of a total of 20 million square feet in Foxconn buildings, is expected to support 10,000 jobs as well as 6,000 indirect jobs, over four years.
“All of our tradespeople are excited,” Bukacek Construction CEO Jim Cairns said. “We’re thrilled.”
Cairns said finding that much skilled labor would likely involve other Midwest states. “You won’t train on that job,” he said. “These will have to be job-ready guys.”
To find companies that would oversee the four-year project, Cairns said, “We’ll see national construction companies that will have great interest … Likely it will be a combined effort of numerous general contractors.”
Cairns said Foxconn would likely create the need for more construction in the area, across many areas such as government — fire stations and departments of public works — housing, retail and schools.
And plants may have to be built to supply the materials such as precast concrete panels or asphalt that Foxconn would demand, Cairns added.
Meanwhile, he pointed out, other construction projects would also have to be done while Foxconn is being built.
Nearby supply base
The Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese manufacturing model indicates there would be new, related manufacturing not far from wherever Foxconn would locate, said Doug Fisher, Marquette University assistant professor and director of Marquette’s Center for Supply Chain Management. That model is to have the entire supply base near the manufacturing operation.
“They tend to align their supply base near those operations,” Fisher said. For example, where shoes are made, the Chinese model also has plants nearby to supply everything from the rubber to the grommets.
“It allows very efficient manufacturing,” he explained. “If there are hiccups, they can react very quickly. That brings the employment base in proximity to the manufacturer.”
“You have companies in Wisconsin that can be potential suppliers for Foxconn,” said Marquette University Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation Carmel Ruffolo. “And these guys will all have to upscale. That adds to that number of jobs.”
Foxconn also would be a huge consumer of services, Fisher said, including security, janitorial, maintenance, logistics — drivers and handlers — warehousing services, staffing and temp agencies and food service.
“Basically you’re running a city of 13,000 people,” he said.
Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, issued his written prognostication for the housing industry, saying a construction boom is on the horizon.
“Southeastern Wisconsin will see significant gains in new construction, unit sales, and increased values with the Foxconn development,” Ruzicka wrote. “With the additional jobs moving into the area, more new homes, condos, and apartment buildings will need to be built, which will grow the market exponentially.
“Additionally, small and large commercial structures, like office buildings, grocery stores, specialty shops, etc. will need to be built to accommodate the new workers and their families moving into the area.
“The new households that will be added to the area will also push demand for more quality-of-life services, like schools and parks. The state has a rich history of high-quality public education and public services, which will be critical as new home buyers decide where to live.”