STURTEVANT — When Hiawatha Bar and Grill owner Tammy Graceffa thinks about Foxconn coming to the area, she has reasons for both happiness and sadness.
On Wednesday, Foxconn Technology Group and area officials publicly announced the Taiwanese company will build its $10 billion manufacturing campus on 1,198 acres between Interstate 94 and highways H, 11 and KR.
The campus, where Foxconn will manufacture liquid crystal display screens and finished products such as televisions, is expected to employ about 3,000 people initially and many thousands more in the future.
A second, 1,073-acre area to the north will be reserved for future expansion, and another 622 acres directly east will be used for construction staging and later, development.
“I have a two-sided opinion,” Graceffa said. Her family owns land on Braun Road in Foxconn’s Area 1 and has a house in Area 2, the potential expansion area. They’ve accepted a purchase offer for their 20 acres in Area 1, and she said, “This is a big bonus for us.
“Then again, it’s turning all this beautiful farmland into concrete,” Graceffa said.
But she’s excited about what Foxconn can do for her Hiawatha business.
“Everything’s just going to boom; it’s got to,” Graceffa said. “Gas stations, stores, restaurants. I hope Sturtevant can keep its small-town feel.”
Another Sturtevant resident with some mixed emotions is Michelle Nelson, a hair stylist at Partners in Design in Racine.
“I feel bad for the people who might have to move,” said Nelson, who lives on 97th Street. “Other than that, I think it’s wonderful. The unemployment rate in Racine is terrible. It seems like it will be a good place to work.
“The incredible number of jobs and people this will impact is huge.”
Other business reactions
Many Sturtevant business people are embracing what Foxconn can bring.
“I don’t think it could be anything but good,” said Kevin Milaeger of Milaeger’s, which has one of its two stores at 8717 Durand Ave. “But how good, it’s too early to say.”
Another Foxconn enthusiast is Mike Aiello, owner-operator of Sturtevant Transmission and Auto Repair, 9800 Durand Ave.
“Racine is nothing but a service community now instead of a manufacturing community. … There’s just no money in Racine,” and businesses such as his are having to hold down their prices just so customers can afford goods and services, Aiello said.
“I think the Racine and Kenosha area is long overdue for something like this,” Aiello added.
Martha Rapeta, owner of Annetta’s Café, 8020 Durand Ave., said about the Foxconn impact, “I think it’s going to be busy everywhere — not just my business, but everywhere.
“It will be nice if it puts people to work,” Rapeta said, “but a lot of people don’t want to work.”
“I welcome Foxconn to Racine County,” Village President Jayme Hoffman said. “The addition of jobs and increased tax base is a benefit to the area. We welcome the opportunity to work with all parties involved with the project to ensure the development would have a positive impact on the community.”
Sturtevant village trustee John Johnson said residents he’s talked to have been about evenly split on Foxconn, with the doubters’ opinion being: “Taxpayers should not be on the hook,” a reference to the state’s $2.85 billion incentives package.
But Johnson himself is enthusiastic. “I think it will be great,” he said. “The whole area is going to grow beyond what anybody has envisioned, ever.
“Most of these people should be able to get back to work who are not working.”
The Village Board has a strong desire to see the Highway 11 corridor improved, and Johnson said Foxconn “will be a stimulus that will allow us to develop that corridor.”
One doubter about what Foxconn will bring to the Sturtevant area is Brad Bartel, a mechanic for Roundy’s, who lives on 97th Street.
“I’m against it,” he said. “What is in it for us? There will be more traffic, more crime, more people, more everything.
“I’ve lived in Sturtevant my whole life,” Bartel continued. “This is a quiet community. I think with all that coming in, it will be chaotic.”
Bliffert Lumber & Hardware could be one of the largest beneficiaries of having Foxconn settle into the area. Eli Bliffert, vice president and majority owner of Bliffert Lumber & Hardware, 10050 Durand Ave., said they expect to get business not just during construction of the manufacturing campus but also from suppliers, warehouses and trucking facilities that will be constructed, and then maintenance supplies.
“The main part that will be good for us will be the demand for housing it will create in the Racine and Kenosha area,” Bliffert said.
“We have been doing very well (in the Sturtevant area), and this should keep that rise in continuing spending for 10 to 15 years,” he predicted.
“We’re sensitive to the fact that it will disrupt the community,” Bliffert added. “The whole place will never be the same.”