MILWAUKEE — Foxconn Technology Group’s chosen base in downtown Milwaukee will be much more than just its North American base, company executives and others said during an event Tuesday at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.’s sparkling headquarters building.
Gov. Scott Walker capped the list of speakers who were celebrating Foxconn’s choice of the former Northwestern Mutual building at 611 E. Wisconsin Ave. to become the Taiwanese company’s North American headquarters. The event was held inside the 32nd floor of the new Northwestern Mutual building at 805 E. Mason St., which opened just months ago and features breathtaking views of the lake and downtown.
“Welcome to the ever-growing footprint of Wisconn Valley,” Walker said, referring to a favorite term of Walker’s for the future Foxconn and other companies and suppliers it is expected to attract.
Foxconn’s planned $10 billion, 32-million-square-foot manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant is expected to employ about 3,000 by the year 2020, and as many as 13,000 at its peak. The company’s $3 billion incentives contract depends on hitting certain benchmarks, including an average annual pay of about $54,000.
Walker said higher-educational institutions all around the area are coming together to help prepare the workforce that Foxconn will need.
The other speakers at the VIP event included: Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou; Alan Yeung, head of U.S. strategy initatives for Foxconn; Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele; Northwestern Mutual Chairman and CEO John Schlifske; and emcee Tim Sheehy, president of Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
Yeung said Foxconn began looking for a home for its head U.S. offices last July or August before settling on the seven-story, 132,800-square-foot former Northwestern Mutual building.
“We are very pleased now that it’s a place where we can grow, a place where we can foster entrepreneurship,” and where Foxconn will devise the systems for its future manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant, Yeung said.
Woo said the new Foxconn headquarters will house what he called the Wisconn Valley Innovation Center. There, he said, people will find business incubators, business accelerators, venture capital activity and a technology ecosystem that will be a home for future development for Foxconn and others.
Abele said: “Today we’re talking about the purchase — not the lease, but the purchase — of a significant downtown Milwaukee building. Foxconn is putting a stake in the ground.”
Abele predicted the impact of that move on Milwaukee’s downtown will exceed that of the catalytic effect he said the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, now called the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, is having.