MOUNT PLEASANT — The rumble of burly dump trucks carrying crushed rock into the Foxconn campus construction site, and empty trucks departing for more, was nearly constant midday Thursday as The Journal Times got a firsthand look at the unfolding project.
Gilbane Building Co. and M+W, the construction companies leading the $10 billion project, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. invited eight area news media onto part of what will become the roughly 3,000-acre Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. The occasion was the 100-day mark since the project’s official groundbreaking on June 28, in which President Donald Trump participated.
“Today we have over 70 companies on the job from Wisconsin,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president, Wisconsin, for Gilbane. More than 90 percent of the workforce is from the Badger State.
The first step, Jelen said, was to build the campus site-development infrastructure. To date, excavators have moved almost 3.5 million cubic yards of soil. That includes a steep, 30- to 40-foot hill of topsoil just outside the construction trailers.
Currently, 150 trucks are toting crushed rock to the site for uses such as building internal construction roads, an enormous building pad and stormwater-handling infrastructure. That matches the number of pieces of equipment on site.
On average, about 400 workers are on site daily, Jelen said. But by second quarter next year, that number will inflate to “thousands.”
“Right now,” he said, “the site development is focused on the campus, and also creating the infrastructure from a stormwater management (perspective), and we will continue on through the winter with utility works.”
“From a site-development perspective,” Jelen said, “we’re focused on the roadways, we’re focused on the structural building areas, and our goal was always to get the first building pad structurally filled and prepared so that we could start foundations in earnest in Quarter Two of next year.”
That building pad is millions of square feet in size, Jelen said. The advanced-display manufacturing operations for the smaller screens — for avionics, automotive uses and so on — will emerge from that pad from within a network of numerous buildings. The goal is to have that building pad finished by winter, and the work is on track, he said.
The bulk of the overall manufacturing facility will be “clean room”, Jelen said. “And that clean-room space, to put it in context: A mid-level clean room is like an operating room in a hospital. So, that’s some of the most complicated space.”
First building nears completion
Workers are already nearing completion of the site’s first structure, he said, a 120,000-square-foot, one-and two-level multipurpose building that started in early August with foundations. That building is in the southeast quadrant of Phase One of Area One, the eastern and middle portions of that land.
Mass excavation will cease when the ground freezes, Jelen said, except for “microexcavation” for the continuing laying of sanitary and stormwater sewer utilities.
During this winter, he said, “We will also do site logistics activities to prepare for and organize the site for a large — very large workforce that will start to ramp up in Quarter Two of 2019. And what I mean by logistics is temporary facilities to have safe, efficient and professional operations for thousands of workers.”
More Foxconn investments
WEDC Sec. Mark Hogan pointed out the many Foxconn actions and announcements that have also occurred away from the Wisconn Valley campus during the first 100 days. They have included:
- Building purchases for innovation centers in Racine, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Foxconn Place Racine, just announced Wednesday, will also be a model for “smart city” pilot programs “that reflect the transformational technologies created by Foxconn,” WEDC states.
- The purchase of a headquarters building in Downtown Milwaukee.
- The $100 million in awards for Smart City, Smart Future ideas.
- The $100 million Wisconn Valley Venture Fund, in partnership with three leading state employers.
“All of those are outside the contract” with the state,” Hogan said. “So, all of that investment in the state is in addition to what they’re doing here.”
The employees who will be in the innovation centers will qualify for state tax credits, he said. Despite all of Foxconn’s investments in Wisconsin so far, the state will not award any of those tax credits until early next year.
“Today we have over 70 companies on the job from Wisconsin.” Adam Jelen, senior vice president, Wisconsin, for Gilbane