RACINE COUNTY — The City of Kenosha has withdrawn its bid to land Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, thus seemingly increasing Racine County’s chances of landing a future $10 billion liquid crystal display plant.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian wrote Gov. Scott Walker a letter dated Monday that pulled the City of Kenosha out of the running for a Foxconn plant that is expected to employ 3,000 people to start, and possibly up to 13,000 eventually.
“Throughout this planning process, we have been consistent in our belief that without significant adjustments to specific current state laws impacting local municipalities, we would be unable to support and/or absorb the development of the project,” Antaramian wrote in part.
“Based upon the current status of the legislative bill which addresses the project, the City of Kenosha regrets that we will not be able to support this development in our community,” the Kenosha mayor wrote. “We wish you, the state and Foxconn all the best in finding reasonable resolutions to all of the issues surrounding this project.”
Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave issued the following statement Tuesday morning in response to Kenosha’s withdrawal: “We remain hopeful that Foxconn will choose to call Racine County home. The impact of this investment on our community would be unprecedented and the opportunity enormous.
“We may have a chance to transform our region, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for Racine County, and we are hard at work to capitalize on that chance in a well thought-out, careful, and conservative way that makes Racine County highly desirable, while maintaining our commitment to the taxpayers of our great county.”
In his letter to Walker, Antaramian expressed some frustration that Kenosha’s concerns with the Foxconn incentives bill have not been adequately addressed. He said city officials have met with several state agencies as well as M7 leaders.
“We have provided documents detailing our needs to both the Assembly and Senate throughout the committee process as well as testifying during the public hearings,” Antaramian wrote. “Unfortunately, our voice has not been heard.”
The mayor cited issues regarding the state’s tax increment finance law and more. “Issues related to certain types of expenditures allowed from the TID, limitations of specific amounts allowed for reimbursement from TID tax increments, uncontrolled incorporation of towns, specific funding rules regarding water utilities, impacts to the state’s levy limit law and the expenditure restraint program have all been ignored,” Antaramian wrote.
Racine State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, responded to Antaramian’s complaints Tuesday with a letter that stated in part: “Just because your city ‘wants’ changes, does not mean they are good or acceptable ideas. We have incorporated changes to the bill at the request of specific communities to provide as little disruption to local budgets and lifestyles as possible.”
“It is disappointing that you have decided to turn your back on housing thousands of jobs in your city at the last minute, but that is your prerogative,” Wanggaard also wrote. “The legislature and the rest of the region has had tremendous cooperation in attempting to land Foxconn.”
“Having read the Kenosha mayor’s concerns,” Racine Mayor Dennis Wiser said Tuesday, “those concerns do not become the City of Racine’s concerns,” because Foxconn would not be located within the City of Racine.
Wiser continued: “We’re still looking at it as an opportunity and looking at how to get ourselves ready for it. There will be people associated with Foxconn looking for places to shop, housing, restaurants and meeting facilities, and we want to be their stop of choice for those concerns.”
Largest U.S. subsidy
The proposed subsidy would be the largest ever from a U.S. state to a foreign company and 10 times bigger than anything Wisconsin has extended to a private business. It would take at least 25 years for Wisconsin to see a return on its investment, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated.
Foxconn would receive $2.85 billion in cash incentives over 15 years if it invests $10 billion in the state and employs 13,000 people. It could also qualify for $150 million in sales tax exemptions for construction equipment.
The Wisconsin plant would be the first outside of Asia to construct liquid crystal display panels for televisions, computers and other uses. Foxconn wants to open the factory by 2020.