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Foxconn
Foxconn changes still provide opportunities, challenges

RACINE COUNTY — In an interview published by the Reuters news service last week, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO and Chairman Terry Gou, said Foxconn is planning on scaling back the manufacturing side of its Mount Pleasant project.

According to the report, Woo said that Foxconn anticipates that three-quarters of the jobs created for the campus will be in research and development and design. But on Friday, Foxconn clarified that manufacturing would indeed comprise a major component of the Wisconn Valley campus development in Mount Pleasant.

“Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park,” according to a statement from the company. “This campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region.”

Foxconn may not ultimately create as many manufacturing positions as many originally hoped, which could discourage those who had hoped the development would provide a pathway for some local residents to become trained, employed and lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.

But many still see the development and training programs it’s inspired as avenues to greater job opportunities for Racine County residents.

Building beyond Foxconn

Racine Mayor Cory Mason said the training programs at First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship Program in particular are focused on construction. On Friday, Foxconn released a statement that the company is still committed to building a $10 billion facility and the City of Racine Water Utility is still contracted to extend water and sewer to the Foxconn site and areas along Interstate 94.

Mason said he’s also heard from construction companies that, on top of a current shortage of skilled workers, about one-third of their workforce are scheduled to retire over the next decade.

“Foxconn is the opportunity to get people into that, but its not just to do a project and be done,” said Mason. “It’s to do a project, gain a lot of skills, maybe become a journeyman and then you’ve got a career for as long as you want to do it.”

Mason said the goal is to have multiple pathways to steady, middle-class jobs that people who have been out of work or gone through re-training can access.

“We need to create as many on-ramps as possible, whether it’s into the building trades for people who are going to build these things or for Foxconn people who are going to be there, but also with our existing companies here,” said Mason. “They’re also concerned about a shortage in the workforce.”

Looking to legacy companies

For those who had planned to work at Foxconn in manufacturing, Bryan Albrecht, Gateway Technical College’s president and CEO, pointed out that legacy companies in Racine, such as Twin Disc, InSinkerator, and Modine, also are looking for people with those skills.

“Foxconn, along with many other employers, supports the advanced manufacturing pathway around Industry 4.0 knowledge and skills,” Albrecht stated in an email. “Manufacturing and engineering technical career paths require graduates to have a solid base of industrial controls, robotics, mechatronics and smart sensor technologies. Gateway’s new programs in advanced manufacturing support these new workforce requirement.”

Albrecht said that last week’s announcement will not affect the college’s relationship with Foxconn.

“Gateway will continue to design, develop and implement education and training programs that align with the needs of local employers,” said Albrecht. “Our partnership with Foxconn has not changed.”

Pastor Melvin Hargrove, project manager for Uplift 900, said the program’s focus has always been to connect job seekers with existing companies.

“Even before Foxconn came to the area, we were already short employees to fill positions in our current businesses,” said Hargrove.

UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford said that, regardless of Foxconn’s current needs, they will continue to train students who can adapt to changes in the global market.

“Foxconn will require a wide range of talent, which must possess the critical-thinking skills and flexibility to adapt to the changing demands of the organization. Flexibility and adaptability are at the foundation of a UW-Parkside education,” Ford wrote in a statement. “Our bold goal for 2025 is to increase the number of graduates by 50 percent to help meet the accelerated demand for talent in our region, which we will see from both new and established businesses and organizations.”

Space for everyone

The 2013-2017 American Community Survey estimated that the City of Racine’s median income at $42,590.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that in 2016, the median salary for engineers was $91,010. The average pay for electrical engineers was $94,210, for electronics engineers (except for computer engineers) the salary was $92,210 and for computer hardware engineers it was $115,080.

As Mason said in his budget address, the city aims to be the “community of choice” for Foxconn employees. But now that Foxconn has said the majority of its employees will be engineers, and given the income disparity, how can the city accommodate those workers without displacing current residents?

“I anticipate it’ll have some pressure there,” said Mason. “I certainly wouldn’t want to draw the conclusion that we don’t want 10,000 engineers to move to the community ... I think we would welcome that opportunity.”

One way the city has approached the issue is by developing a variety of housing, from the affordable to market rate, to fit a variety of income levels.

“It’s really not an either/or question — you have to do both,” said Mason. “You have to address the workforce and housing needs of the people that are here and you have to address the workforce and housing needs of the people who may come.”

As for whether Foxconn’s changes have made him wary of the project, Mason said that as long as the company doesn’t walk back its promise of a $10 billion facility and 13,000 employees, he’s willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

“Remember, this is a company that started making Atari joysticks a long time ago,” said Mason. “They don’t make those anymore because they’ve been savvy enough to evolve as the market changes. And so we want them to have that flexibility.”

This story has been updated since publication to clarify Foxconn's plans for its campus.

“We need to create as many on-ramps as possible, whether it’s into the building trades for people who are going to build these things or for Foxconn people who are going to be there, but also with our existing companies here. They’re also concerned about a shortage in the workforce.” Racine Mayor Cory Mason

racsadoj / JONATHON SADOWSKI jonathon.sadowski@journaltimes.com  

Burton Hathaway of Racine holds up his friend Louie Dazzo's 7.5-pound brown trout catch Saturday morning, Feb. 2, 2019, at Salmon Unlimited's 2019 Racine Trout Ice Derby at Reefpoint Marina. The ice fishing competition had 371 contestants, the second-best turnout in the event's 11-year history. The first-place brown trout weighed in at 12.8 pounds, the first-place rainbow trout was 8.26 pounds and the first-place pike was 11.58 pounds.


Local
BORN ON I-94
Kenosha deputy reunited with Sturtevant baby she delivered on I-94

STURTEVANT — Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Allison George learned how to deliver a baby during her law enforcement training, but she never thought she would have to use that knowledge on the job — and certainly not on an Interstate 94 offramp in the middle of a snowstorm.

But George did just that: She helped Holly and William Leppert of Sturtevant deliver their third son, Nathan, at 9:46 p.m. on Jan. 18 on the southbound Highway 50 exit as a snowstorm blanketed the area with as much as 10 inches of snow. The group was reunited Saturday morning at the Lepperts’ home.

“In the academy, we’re actually taught how to deliver babies,” George said. “And at the time, I was kind of laughing and joking around in the class like, ‘Are we done yet? Is it lunchtime yet?’ ”

The Lepperts beamed as they spoke of Nathan’s birth, and George held the baby after presenting him with a proclamation from Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth naming him an “official” junior deputy for the Sheriff’s Department. Nathan also received a onesie with the Sheriff’s Department logo and a gift bag of toys.

racsadoj / JONATHON SADOWSKI jonathon.sadowski@journaltimes.com  

Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputy Allison George holds Nathan Leppert, the Sturtevant baby she helped deliver Jan. 18 on a Highway 50 offramp of Interstate 94.

Holly Leppert said her water broke at about 8:15 that night, and as her husband drove her and their other sons, 1-year-old Oliver and 2-year-old William Jr., to the St. Catherine’s Medical Center Campus in Pleasant Prairie, she sensed Nathan was not going to wait for them to reach their destination.

“I knew he was coming, no matter what,” Holly said.

They pulled over and called 911.

“When I called the 911 operator, I was kind of Googling it at the same time what to do,” William said with a laugh. “Outside I was calm; inside I was a nervous wreck.”

Nathan is home now and a healthy 8 pounds, though he spent 10 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in West Bend because the cold air gave him a pneumothorax, or partly collapsed lung.

racsadoj / JONATHON SADOWSKI jonathon.sadowski@journaltimes.com  

Holly and William Leppert, of Sturtevant, sit Saturday morning in their home with their three sons Nathan, William and Oliver. A Kenosha County Sheriff's deputy helped the couple deliver Nathan Jan. 18 on a Highway 50 offramp on Interstate 94 in Kenosha.

The Lepperts said Oliver and William Jr. had no idea their baby brother was being born in the car, and that Oliver even slept through the whole ordeal. But their parents were certainly awake and aware, and so was George.

“This probably will be the best moment that will stick with me the rest of my career,” George said.


Adam Wesley 

A puppy from Lucky 7 Dog Rescue sits with a participant of a Yoga With Puppies class at Gather on Broadway on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Wesley/The Post-Crescent via AP)


JAKE HILL, For The Journal Times 

Burlington's Jaden Bird, top, wrestles Union Grove's Cael Kahle during a Southern Lakes Conference dual meet on Thursday at Union Grove High School. Bird, ranked No. 1 in the state at 113 pounds, pinned Kahle in 5:35 as the Demons won the meet 65-12.


Mason


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Thank you, Journal Times readers and carriers

In the morning when Journal Times readers wake up, we know they expect their newspapers. Not only is it a part of the morning routine, it’s a vital source of information for residents.

It’s how they learn about development, activities around town and important updates about parking and garbage collection. It’s also where they learn which businesses have the best deals on snowblowers to clear the driveway and chili supplies to stay warm inside.

This past week was very challenging because of the subzero temperatures, yet a large percentage of carriers were out making sure residents received their papers.

Many of the carriers were prepared for the snow and cold delivering this entire week without missing a beat, yet many of these same carriers faced setbacks, having to be pushed or towed out of ditches and jumping through snow banks. Others had issues with cars not starting in the morning because of cold temperatures.

Over the past week, there were social media posts and calls from folks upset about missed delivery, who shared their stories on how they walked two miles in the frigid cold when they were 12. There were also calls chastising The Journal Times for sending carriers out in this kind of weather; and still others who were OK with the non-delivery until they heard of friends across town who received their papers.

One piece of correspondence was particularly interesting. After explained that even the U.S. Postal Service didn’t deliver the mail on Wednesday and Thursday because of the cold, the man’s reply was: “I didn’t know that, because I didn’t get the paper.”

We thank the carriers, press operators, journalists and the entire Journal Times staff who braved the weather to get to the news to readers.

And we thank our subscribers for their understanding during a challenging week.

Here’s hoping spring comes soon!