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Gou also meets with Trump
Evers discusses meeting with Foxconn CEO with Racine, Kenosha editorial boards

KENOSHA — In a setting fit for Hollywood, Gov. Tony Evers met with Foxconn Chairman and CEO Terry Gou inside the Signature flight terminal, reserved for private jets, at Mitchell International Airport on Thursday after Gou met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Speaking to a joint session of the editorial boards of The Journal Times and Kenosha News Thursday afternoon, Evers described the 30-minute meeting as “great conversation” and that this was the first step toward “building a good relationship.”

“We talked a lot about what their plans were and it’s pretty much how it’s been defined previously,” Evers said.

This was the first time Evers and Gou have met and spoken face to face.

Foxconn has committed to building a Gen6 liquid crystal display (LCD) manufacturing facility, after previously agreeing to a Gen10.5 facility, and manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant, and also creating up to 13,000 jobs in the state and investing $10 billion in the state.

“Gen” refers to a specific generation of a particular technology.

Evers said Gou is “starting to transition into a different world,” since he announced that he is running for president of Taiwan and is planning to step away from the daily operations at Foxconn.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the transition from him being in charge of daily work in the company to turning over the helm to some of his colleagues,” Evers said. “I talked about our interests and that the company succeeds and that has always been our position.”

Evers has been critical of the Foxconn agreement and recently said that the prospect of Foxconn hiring 13,000 people in the state is an “unreal expectation.”

However, on Thursday Evers clarified that point.

“The fact that I said that they may not have 13,000 (jobs), it could be less, it could be more, to me it doesn’t matter,” Evers said. “I’m not doubting their word, I’m just saying that we want as much clarity as we can going forward and we talked about what they’re doing right now as far as building. They’re hoping to have the new plant up and running as soon as possible.”

Evers said Foxconn has made a commitment to the state and he is trying to take care of taxpayers.

“We’ll be supportive of (the Foxconn deal), I was never not supportive of that,” Evers said. “I think there was expectations on some people’s part that 13,000 was going to be a magic number and certainly if they get there, good.”

Evers also said his administration is monitoring environmental standards related to the project which “seem to be going alright at this point in time.”

“Any business, especially a large business, is going to have their detractors and attractors, this business is no different,” Evers said. “I don’t want to contribute to that because frankly I want them to be successful.”

Louis Woo, special assistant to Gou, was also at the meeting at the airport.

Meeting with Racine officials

Gou then traveled to Mount Pleasant and met with Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, Mount Pleasant Village President Dave DeGroot and Jenny Trick, executive director of the Racine County Economic Development Corp.

Gou met with local officials and Foxconn workers at the company’s building located at 13315 Globe Drive in Mount Pleasant.

Delagrave said Gou expressed a lot of affection for Wisconsin and Racine County.

“He looks forward to continuing the project and the investment that they’re making is a critical part of their business plan,” Delagrave said.

Delegrave said Gou reiterated that vertical construction on the Gen6 facility will be happening in early June.

“Contracts on the construction aspect of that, whether it’s the foundation or the vertical piece to that, those contracts are going to be let pretty soon and hopefully in 30 days they’ll have the construction companies named and we’ll be on our way.”

Delagrave said he talks to Foxconn officials once or twice a week and “there’s always been the assurance that this project was always moving forward.”

With larger national media outlets producing stories on the development Delagrave asked for Foxconn to respond more directly as to not create more uncertainty and “they were kind of already proactively addressing that.”

“I think some of the national media put in some uncertainty,” Delagrave said. “I think what is new here is Foxconn now is going to be responding to these national reports right away and addressing these (stories) in a way that is about fact, in terms of their investment in Racine County.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, also attended the meeting in Racine County with Gou and other local officials. The Foxconn development area in Mount Pleasant is in Vos’ 63rd Assembly District.

Vos called the meeting a “positive step forward in the development of the Foxconn project in Racine County.”

“Every time they are asked, Foxconn officials reiterate their commitment to keeping their promises and growing their investment in our state,” Vos said in a statement. “Let’s hope now that they’ve met with Gov. Evers, we can put the political back and forth behind us. We’re all on the same team and we can’t have politics get in the way of this transformational project.”

Meeting with Trump

Before coming to Wisconsin, Gou paid a visit to the White House to meet with Trump to discuss the development in Mount Pleasant.

According to a Foxconn statement about the meeting: “Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou visited the White House and met with President Donald J. Trump during his recent trip to Washington, D.C. At the meeting, Mr. Gou and President Trump discussed the latest updates and the positive progress of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park project among other matters.”

When asked about the meeting by The Journal Times, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders suggested more investment could be coming to the state.

“(Wednesday) afternoon, President Trump met with brilliant business leader Terry Gou, creator of Foxconn one of the world’s largest companies. Mr. Gou is spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there. The President and Mr. Gou did not discuss support for his campaign in Taiwan, he is just a great friend.”

Recap: Two weeks of back-and-forth between Gov. Evers and Foxconn

Christina Lieffring / CHRISTINA LIEFFRING 

A traffic message sign warns drivers on Highway 31 about the temporary closing of the intersection of Highway 31 and 16th Street, which is set to begin at 10 p.m. tonight and run through 6 a.m. on Monday. A.W. Oakes and Son employees are scheduled to work 24-hour shifts to complete a water main installation under Highway 31. Northbound through-traffic will be detoured at Highway 11 (Durand Avenue) and directed to Ohio Street. From Ohio Street, northbound traffic will be sent west on Highway 20 (Washington Avenue) back to Highway 31. It will be the reverse route for southbound traffic. Motorists will have access to businesses and residences on and near Highway 31 between Durand Avenue and the point of road closure; the same holds true for properties on Highway 31 between Highway 20 and 16th Street. According to the Village of Mount Pleasant, local traffic will have access in both directions on 16th Street between Highway 31 and Oakes Road; but access to Highway 31 from 16th Street will not be possible.

Wild Root Market
Wild Root Market still needs $1M; renovations this year remains goal

RACINE — Seven months after the Wild Root Market reached one fundraising goal, it still needs to fill an approximately $1 million financing gap to be able to start renovating its building, and the group has again pushed back the project timing.

It is now going on a decade that the hoped-for food cooperative has been in the planning stage. In late 2009, a small group of people first met to talk about starting a community-owned, natural foods grocery store in the Downtown area. The impetus for their efforts came from a market study, in about 2006, for a Downtown grocery store that would emphasize natural foods.

Last Sept. 23, on its final day of member fundraising, the local food cooperative hit a milestone when it reached its $1.125 million goal in memberships and member loans. A precommitted loan from the National Cooperative Bank, for construction and equipment, was contingent on the co-op coming up with the $1.125 million in owner loans and donations.

Wild Root Market hits fundraising goal on last day

RACINE — It came down to the final hours of the final day, but Wild Root Market has officially reached its $1.125 million goal and is looking forward to opening its north-side food cooperative sometime next year.

At the time Wild Root was anticipating opening the north-side food cooperative, at 500 Walton Ave., this year.

The co-op did close on the purchase of that building in December, Wild Root Board Secretary Margie Michicich said Tuesday. The City of Racine released $175,000 of its promised project grant of up to $390,000 to help with the purchase, Michicich said.

However, per the property covenant, if Wild Root Market has not closed on its private financing by Dec. 31, Wild Root must deed the property to the city. The city would be able to sell the property in order to recoup the $175,000 grant. It has been determined that the property is worth more than $175,000.

The Wild Root board continues to work with the National Cooperative Bank in Washington, D.C., as the primary lender for construction and equipment, Michicich said. “Our primary lender wants us to have a strong cash position to ensure stability in our first year,” she said.

Consequently, the Wild Root board has been talking with private, government and community entities that Michicich declined to identify as potential sources for closing the $1 million gap.

The board’s goal is now to find that funding and begin renovations on the building this year, as soon as possible, she said. The expectation is that renovations will take at least six months.

Michicich said she and other Wild Root board members are “cautiously optimistic” about landing the needed funding to spring loose the main loan. And she said Wild Root has obtained more than 80 percent of the capital it requires.

The Wild Root Market plan

The cooperative, formed in 2011, is trying to open a full-service grocery store with 7,700 square feet of retail space, at an estimated cost of $5.2 million, in a former medical building two blocks west of the Racine Zoo. The plan includes a delicatessen and café, local and organic meat, eggs and produce; bulk foods; bakery; wine and beer; supplements and more. Wild Root says the grocery store will create about 50 jobs, all of which will pay above minimum wage.

Although the Wild Root Market would be member-owned, returning the profits to its members, it would be a for-profit operation that would increase the amount of property taxes paid to the city on the now-vacant building.

The co-op expects to make between $5 million and $6 million in its first year, and at least 20 percent would come from sales of products produced within 100 miles of the market.

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Racine teen dies after being ejected from vehicle on Highway U

RAYMOND — Nineteen-year-old Dylan Pavia, of Racine, was killed Thursday afternoon after a crash on Highway U (76th Street), just south of its intersection with Seven Mile Road, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.

A Raymond Fire and Rescue member reportedly witnessed the crash and was the first person to call it in at about 1:50 p.m. He reportedly told the dispatcher that someone, later identified as Pavia, “was ejected from one of the vehicles and appeared deceased and lying in a field,” according to a press release.

The initial Sheriff’s Office investigation has found that the vehicle Pavia was driving, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, lost control and veered into oncoming traffic and struck a Chrysler Town and Country minivan head-on. The Monte Carlo then appeared to flip several times before coming to rest in a field off the side of the road.

The operator of the van, an 84-year-old Franksville woman, was not injured.

It was raining throughout Racine County in the hours leading up to the crash.

In its release, the Sheriff’s Office extended sympathies to the family and friends of Pavia.

His mom, Kari Pavia, said her son, who had gone to Case High School, had just obtained his license about two weeks ago.

He was working in a sales job in Franklin, where he was likely heading on Thursday when the crash happened, she said.

“He was full of life,” said Kari, who works at Main Hub, 1300 N Main St., and Pudgy’s Pub, 7800 Washington Ave. “He believed if you believed in yourself, you could accomplish anything.”

He was living with his girlfriend, Summer Davis, whom he met about a year ago at Summerfest.

“It was love at first sight,” Davis said. “I loved him as soon as I saw him.”

Davis, who is from Florida, had been traveling the country following a band when they met.

“I ended up staying. We have been together ever since,” Davis said. They were planning on spending the rest of their lives together, she said.

“He was so loving. He was so loyal,” Davis said. “He was the most loving person … There is no one else like him.”

Governor makes his case
Evers says he'll 'fight like hell' on Medicaid expansion

KENOSHA — After the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee scrapped Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to expand Medicaid, the governor went on the offensive to fight for a provision that he considers a “make or break issue.”

“At the end of the day we’re not backing down on this issue; we think it is exceedingly important to the state of Wisconsin,” Evers said. “Our state left over a billion dollars on the table over the last eight years by not taking that. It’s money that our taxpayers paid in and also basically now it’s going to other states.”

Evers made those comments on Thursday to a joint session of the editorial boards of The Journal Times and the Kenosha News.

“By taking the Medicaid expansion money, we will be able to invest $1.6 billion in our state’s health care structure,” Evers said. “That will immediately allow 82,000 people to have access to care that they don’t have presently.”

Evers pointed to the Marquette Law School poll, which showed that 70% of respondents favor taking federal funds to expand Medicaid, while 23% oppose the extension.

“One of the reasons why I’m sitting here as governor is because of this issue; clearly health care was on the agenda last November,” Evers said. “We feel an obligation not to just roll over and play dead because Republican leadership has decided to ignore at least 70% of the people in the state.”

Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, also spoke alongside the governor at the editorial board meeting.

Palm said the state currently covers about 150,000 people on Medicaid at 100% of the federal poverty level and 59% of that funding is matched by the federal government. However if the state were to expand the program up to 138% of the federal poverty level, that would add an additional 82,000 people to the program with a 90% match from the federal government.

“It is how we save the State of Wisconsin $325 million over the biennium,” Palm said.

Palm said those savings will be reinvested in the health care system and the state could potentially pull in an additional $573 million in federal funds for a variety of federal matching rates.

“So grand total, $1.6 billion in new federal money by expanding coverage to 82,000 people,” Palm said.

Potential Racine impact

In Racine County, according to DHS, if the state were to expand Medicaid it could mean $100 million of new investments in the county and it would use $29.8 million to add nearly 3,300 people to program. It would also use $31.4 million to continue to provide coverage to current Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, SeniorCare and FoodShare Employment and Training program members.

Some of the funds would also go to increasing funding for hospitals, physicians, improving access to behavioral health and dental services.

“When folks can see in black and white the benefits to the state … it really does make concrete what has previously been a philosophical discussion,” Palm said.

When asked if funding would decrease over time, Evers said “The only way that it would get cut off is if the federal government stopped funding it.”

However, if Medicaid is not expanded, both Evers and Palm said the new investments would not happen.

Palm added that her department would need about an additional $400 million in general purpose revenue to keep the current system going.

Evers said the administration is “not going to negotiate against ourselves” and believes they are on the right side of the argument.

“We’re going to continue to fight for it,” Evers said. “We think at the end of the day we’re going to be victorious and we’re encouraging people to connect with their legislators and be active in this fight for good health care in the state.”

Vos responds

But GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wasn’t budging Thursday, calling the plan a “massive welfare expansion” that Republicans cannot back.

Of the approximately 82,000 Wisconsinites who would be newly eligible for the federal-state health coverage program, Vos said about half already have coverage through the exchanges created by former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The other half are not covered but are eligible for low-cost coverage through the exchanges, said Vos, R-Rochester.

“None of us ran on an expansion of welfare,” Vos said at a press conference at General Mitchell Airport.

Wisconsin State Journal reporter Mark Sommerhauser contributed to this report.

Pete Wicklund /