MOUNT PLEASANT — After opening locations in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire and, most recently, Downtown Racine, the Foxconn Technology Group is looking to fill those places with workers.
Hundreds of job seekers flowed into the Foxconn ETC building, 13315 Globe Drive, on Saturday to try to get a job with the company.
Alan Yeung, director of U.S. strategic initiatives for Foxconn, was on hand to interview candidates himself for some of the open positions.
“We’re doing multi-stages of interviewing today,” Yeung said. “We’d love to take advantage of the fact that the candidates are here and hiring managers, recruiters, front-line managers are all here. And they are helping with some of the hiring decisions today.”
Yeung said he was happy with the turnout of candidates at the hiring event.
“We have actually made job offers on the spot, today,” Yeung said. “After an extended period of conversation with them over one or two interviews. This is a way for us to streamline things and also compress time in a compressed space so we can get our workforce built up as fast as we can.”
When asked about how many people Foxconn has hired so far, Yeung said the company is not ready to release that information.
“But we are encouraged by the pace and the progress made,” Yeung said. “It’s still early for us to know how we’re doing but we’re encouraged by the outcomes from the last few weeks … we hope to hire several hundred people (by the end of this year).”
Yeung said Foxconn is “here for the long term,” but the company will be “thoughtful and selective” when hiring employees.
“But as you can tell from the Foxconn experience from the last year and a half, when we go Foxconn speed, we go quick,” Yeung said.
For the job fair, more than 1,300 applicants submitted information online to set up an interview or to apply for a job and there were between 40 to 50 managers present to interview candidates.
“Foxconn is here for the long term and the support that we got from the state and local government, including the Village of Mount Pleasant, has been phenomenal and it really validates the reason why we actually chose to be in Wisconsin,” Yeung said. “We’re going to be a positive force for the community not just for the jobs and opportunities we create but this is one of the most exciting things I personally have gotten myself involved in, and therefore we’re thankful for this.”
No stock market fear
While Foxconn has been working to introduce itself to different parts of the state, at the moment there aren’t any plans to open any more locations.
But as the past 18 months have shown, that could change.
“With the right conditions and situations we’ll definitely take that into account and you never say never,” Yeung said. “But you can tell the places where we would consider opening up a Foxconn place innovation center will typically involve a supply base and higher education.”
Yeung said if they were to open up another location, the area needs to have the educational infrastructure in place to get it off the ground.
“To us, that’s a strategy we’re beginning to roll out,” Yeung said. “Having the local talent, but also having the suppliers, but sometimes you just need to be there. You can’t do it by phone or email … you need to have outposts.”
After the Dow Jones Industrial average fell more than 800 points on Wednesday, with much of that drop driven by speculation of the tech sector, Yeung said the company is not worried about the stock market.
“We don’t really get affected by the capital market that much,” Yeung said. “Our company is healthy and well-capitalized, and projects like this take many years to prepare. We’re not affected by it at all.”
Developments like the one in Mount Pleasant, Yeung said, take a lot time and planning before the company feels comfortable moving forward.
“Our investment is very long-term,” Yeung said. “Our investment is not just for electronic manufacturing … if the economic conditions change drastically it might affect, sometimes, the timing but we don’t see that at all in the moment and we don’t see that in the foreseeable future.”
Verifying tax credits
Critics of the Foxconn deal often point to the $2.85 billion tax incentive package passed by the state Legislature.
As part of the legislation, Foxconn will be able to accrue tax credits from the state as the company meets certain construction and employment goals.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is in charge of verifying development figures given to them by Foxconn in order to award the tax credits.
Mark Hogan, secretary of the WEDC, said both Foxconn and WEDC will each employ a third-party, certified public accountant to help verify the numbers.
“As of right now, the state of Wisconsin has given $0 in tax credits to the company,” Hogan said. “By contract, a year from now, the most the state of Wisconsin through the WEDC will have been required to pay the company in tax credits is $9.5 million, which is just 1/3 of 1 percent of the $2.85 billion.”
Hogan said he is confident the WEDC can handle the workload in verifying the tax credits.
“We will have a three-year window, from a state perspective, from a taxpayer perspective of looking at what the company is doing and how their doing it before we pay out any appreciable dollars,” Hogan said.