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Governor visits Case Construction
Walker, Case Construction Equipment celebrate Foxconn contracts

RACINE — With five burly, gleaming new pieces of Case Construction Equipment helping to set the scene, Case and Gov. Scott Walker on Monday celebrated the just-announced signings of contracts with 27 Wisconsin companies for Foxconn Technology Group’s first site-development phase.

On Monday morning, Foxconn and the $10 billion project’s general contractors announced the signing of $100 million in site-preparation contracts with subcontractors, all but one of them Wisconsin-based companies. During his remarks during the event at Case Construction’s North American headquarters, Walker said 97 to 98 percent of that $100 million will flow to the Wisconsin companies.

It was his third stop of the day, after Brownsville and Black River Falls, to highlight Foxconn’s impact on Wisconsin companies.

Walker pointed out that Foxconn will be building 8K technology, a measure of the highest-definition liquid-crystal-display screens made, “first of its kind anywhere outside of Asia.”

He described his visit to Washington, D.C., last spring for a meeting about Foxconn’s potential interest in Wisconsin, which led to visits to this state and area. “And that was the beginning of what I call a lifelong relationship.”

Walker noted Oshkosh Corp. does about $300 million in business with about 700 Wisconsin suppliers in about 140 communities. Foxconn, he pointed out, when fully operational is expected to do more than quadruple that amount, $1.4 billion.

Infrastructure critical

Scott Harris, vice president of CNH Industrial, parent company of the Case Construction Equipment and Case IH brands, pointed out the high regard in which those brands are viewed internationally.

Then Harris said: “Today, there’s renewed optimism as we reflect on what it means for all of us to welcome another world-class organization like Foxconn to our area.”

“As Case,” Harris said, “we’ve long been advocates of the notion that economic growth is propelled exponentially by infrastructure and development. We believe business and commerce are naturally attracted to prodigious transportation, easy access to highways, efficient utilities and resources and, of course, a skilled workforce.

“Without our state’s investment in infrastructure, particularly in the I-94 corridor, we would not be here today welcoming Foxconn or any of the other world-class companies that call Racine and Kenosha counties home.”

‘Hub of

manufacturing

“I am thrilled that the new generations of Racine County residents will have even more opportunities for careers in manufacturing,” Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said. “We know that this is so important.

“And I’m thrilled to see that Racine County is on its way to becoming the hub of manufacturing — not just in Wisconsin but in the Midwest and in the United States.

“And yes, there has been some challenges. But Governor, I can tell you there are 71 other counties that wish they were in our position today, absolutely.”

During his remarks, Mount Pleasant Village President Dave DeGroot said: “I never had a doubt that the Village of Mount Pleasant would be positively impacted by Foxconn’s unprecedented investment, but these first contractor awards are just a glimpse into the massive ripple effect that will continue to spread through the state … the ripple effect should be very bullish for providers like Case Construction Equipment.”

“Without our state’s investment in infrastructure, particularly in the I-94 corridor, we would not be here today welcoming Foxconn or any of the other world-class companies that call Racine and Kenosha counties home.” Scott Harris, CNH Industrial vice president

Local
Racine
Palenick: Referendum unlikely to be solution to Racine's fiscal needs

MILWAUKEE — Appealing directly to Racine taxpayers for more money is an unlikely solution to budget struggles, the city’s administrator says.

City Administrator Jim Palenick joined a panel of municipal leaders on Monday afternoon in Milwaukee to discuss the financial stresses cities face. The event was part of a luncheon series hosted by the Wisconsin Policy Forum. Monday’s event, held at the Italian Community Center, brought together Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks, Beloit City Manager Lori Luther and Racine’s Palenick. The panel discussion built off analyses by the Wisconsin Policy Forum about the fiscal health of Milwaukee and Racine.

The forum’s report on Racine was the subject of an April article by The Journal Times. The article detailed how a combination of state policies, past local practices and future demands warrant monitoring of Racine’s fiscal future — despite the finances being “well managed,” according to the forum’s report.

On Monday, Palenick discussed how some of those economic realities affect the city. Racine is landlocked, Palenick noted, because of its past practice of providing water and sewer service to outside communities without requiring annexation into the city. As a result, Racine struggles to generate the net new construction that the state requires in order to grow its tax levy.

“We sort of have this perfect storm of things working against us to try to simply keep up with just providing simple, regular services to our citizens,” Palenick told the audience.

He said the city’s main opportunity to grow is through “in-fill” redevelopment projects, a priority he identified in a Journal Times report earlier this month.

Rob Henken, the president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum and moderator of Monday’s discussion, said the idea behind the state law was to protect taxpayers from growing bills that were a result of improvements in property values.

“(Instead) try to link the growth in property taxes as a whole for municipal governments to that new construction, to have that new construction yield incremental growth in property taxes every year,” he said.

Referendum

Brooks, of South Milwaukee, talked about how his community recently supported a referendum that allowed the city to increase its tax levy so that it could maintain its paramedic services. That solution is not likely viable for Racine, Palenick said.

The city’s tax rate exceeds its suburban neighbors’ rates, according to the forum’s analysis. In 2016, the report shows, Racine’s tax rate was $16.74, while Mount Pleasant’s was $7.23, Caledonia’s was $6.86 and Sturtevant’s was $5.35. Under those circumstances, Palenick said, a successful referendum for additional revenue would be “virtually impossible.”

The city has not yet discussed a direct appeal to its taxpayers of that nature, Palenick said, but the potential remains should circumstances arise in which services could be jeopardized.

“We haven’t gotten there, but that’s a discussion that could happen in the future,” he said.

Sales tax

Panel speakers, including Milwaukee’s mayor, said more diverse options for raising revenue would relieve some of the pressures local governments face to provide services to their residents. Barrett suggested communities could benefit from the option to charge a local sales tax.

Palenick agreed, especially because of Foxconn Technology Group’s incoming development in Mount Pleasant. A sales tax would give the community the opportunity to raise funds through people besides its own residents who are also adding to the economy, he said.

“If we’re going to capture the benefit of all that new spending that likely is going to come to our community, particularly during the Foxconn construction, while it’s going on, the very best way to do that is a sales tax — with the least burden on the existing population,” he said. “In that regard, I think the timing could be very good.”

“If we’re going to capture the benefit of all that new spending that likely is going to come to our community, particularly during the Foxconn construction, while it’s going on, the very best way to do that is a sales tax — with the least burden on the existing population. In that regard, I think the timing could be very good.” Jim Palenick, Racine city administrator

JAKE GREEN, jake.green@journaltimes.com 

Racine Raiders running back Howard Triplett looks for open field in a game against the Columbus Fire Saturday night.


Caitlin Sievers / Submitted 

The Waterford High School National Honor Society is selling fence slats like this one carved with donor names for $50 apiece to fund an all-inclusive playground at Whitford Park. 


Local
FOXCONN
Eleven Racine County companies get Foxconn contracts

RACINE COUNTY — Eleven Racine County companies are among the 28 that will share $100 million for the first phase of site development work for Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park.

On Monday, Foxconn Technology Group and its general contractor, M+W/Gilbane, announced a list of the subcontractors selected to conduct site development work for the Wisconn Valley project, the Taiwanese company’s future advanced display fabrication facility and research and development campus in Mount Pleasant. All but one of the 28 companies named are based in Wisconsin; the other is based in Illinois. The contracts awarded have a total value of $100 million.

“We are proud to continue to deliver on our ‘Wisconsin First’ commitment through our partnership with companies across the state,” stated Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou. Woo said Foxconn looks forward to partnering with additional Wisconsin companies as it builds toward creating 13,000 jobs on its Wisconn Valley campus.

The Racine County companies that have received contracts for first-phase site development work:

  • A.W. Oakes & Sons, Racine, for aggregate and earthwork
  • Case Construction Equipment, Racine, for equipment rental
  • Environmental Control, Raymond, for erosion control
  • Fabick CAT Racine Rentals, Mount Pleasant, for equipment rental
  • George Schroeder Trucking, Town of Burlington
  • Hribar Corp., Mount Pleasant, for equipment rental
  • Kapur & Associates, Burlington, for surveying
  • Metro Security & Public Safety, Racine, for site security
  • Otter Sales and Service, Burlington, for equipment rental
  • Pac-Van, Yorkville, for support trailers
  • Super Aggregates, Town of Waterford, for aggregate

In addition, Payne & Dolan of Waukesha, which owns the quarry at Douglas Avenue, Three Mile Road and Charles Street, received a contract for asphalt paving.

500,000 hours of site work

The 28 companies selected are expected to draw their direct and indirect workforce from about 60 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The site development work includes erosion control, mass excavation, storm water management and testing work. This phase of the construction project will require 500,000 hours of work on site and create 800 direct and indirect jobs.

“Wisconsin is noted for its skilled employee base, and we are fortunate to be able to work with a talented workforce from dozens of Wisconsin business on this exciting project,” stated Adam Jelen, senior vice president at Gilbane. “We are pleased to be bringing together some of the best and the brightest from all over the state to work on a project that will help transform the Wisconsin economy.”

The companies selected include minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned business enterprises, including Kapur & Associates, which is minority-owned.