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Foxconn headquarters announcement

Gov. Scott Walker, right, applauds during a Feb. 5 announcement that Foxconn is establishing its North American headquarters in a former Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. building in Downtown Milwaukee. Also present at the announcement, held on the 32nd floor in Northwestern Mutual's new high-rise Milwaukee headquarters, were, from left, Alan Yeung, head of U.S. strategic initiatives for Foxconn, and Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou. Yeung spoke Wednesday at the Delta Hotel by Marriott Racine, 7111 Washington Ave., during the Racine County Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Cost, speed and talent: Those were the three factors that led Foxconn Technology Group to choose Racine County for its future U.S. home, the Taiwanese company’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives told an audience Wednesday.

Alan Yeung spoke extemporaneously for more than 12 minutes at the Delta Hotel by Marriott Racine, 7111 Washington Ave., during the Racine County Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting. Yeung gave the audience of a few hundred people an insightful glimpse into Foxconn’s decision-making process regarding its planned manufacturing and technology campus here.

As a 1984 University of Wisconsin graduate, Yeung already had a strong Wisconsin connection when, early last year, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou and Gou’s top assistant, Louis Woo, called Yeung to tell him Gou was about to embark on a new project in America.

“My job in the last year or so has been to scout for, and meet with, and eventually select the site that would be most suitable for our first phase investment for $10 billion (liquid crystal display) project,” Yeung said.

As he began to talk about that site selection process, Yeung said: “You probably have read some of that in the newspapers or website. Not everything is accurate; not everything is true. But,” he quipped, “the ones that were actually positive and good, believe them!”

Foxconn’s search

The Foxconn team looked all around the country, in 20 to 25 states, Yeung said, for the right location for its U.S. home.

In Racine County, Yeung said: “We have very affordable housing with a great environment. We have a county where multiple townships, villages and city that actually work together.”

He talked about “Foxconn speed.” “Foxconn speed sometimes means you have not heard from them (the company) for months or weeks or days,” he said. “Or sometimes Foxconn speed means you have heard from them a few times in the last hour and a half.

“Speed for us is actually cost … we want to build things quickly, we want to actually lower the cost and eliminate the risk to go with that. So speed to us is very important.”

About talent as another deciding factor, Yeung said: “Wisconsin is a great state for education … I am Exhibit A,” again drawing laughter.

“It was not a difficult decision (choosing this area), although the unemployment rate is much lower than a few years ago. I think we would like to reverse the so-called ‘brain drain.’ ”

Larger than you know

Yeung said he will bring his family to live here from Taiwan.

Also on the topic of housing, he said: “We probably need to build some housing units … we’re beginning to look at that.”

Foxconn will create the need for more housing and also for finding transportation solutions, Yeung acknowledged, and he promised the company would try to help find those solutions.

“As a responsible corporate citizen,” he said, “we are responsible to you in working together to find and solve those problems.”

And Yeung said Phase One, the $10 billion investment that could create up to 13,000 jobs, is actually larger than the public now knows.

“In due course,” he said, “we are going to share with you more about what Phase One’s really all about. And I can say that some of the more industrial aspects of the project will be unveiled in the next few months.”

“I think we would like to reverse the so-called ‘brain drain.’ ” Alan Yeung, Foxconn Technology Group’s director of U.S. strategic initatives

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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