On July 26, Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn announced that it plans to build a flat panel LCD monitor production facility as large as 20 million sq ft at an undisclosed southeast Wisconsin location.  

Gov. Scott Walker (R) offered the firm incentives in a memorandum of understanding signed with the state that includes up to $3 billion in state tax breaks that the republican-controlled state legislature could approve as early as this month.

Foxconn has committed to creating 3,000 manufacturing jobs by 2020. Another 10,000 jobs could be created from construction and supporting businesses, according to the agreement.

Approval of the full incentive package could mean Foxconn, which reported nearly $140 billion in revenue in 2015, could net up to $1.5 billion in tax cuts for creating Wisconsin jobs and another $1.35 billion for building what Foxconn calls its “Fab18” facility. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau noted that it could take Wisconsin 25 years to break even on the deal.

However, there is no timetable for construction and no guarantee that the project will be built.

 “We characterize (the deal) as game-changing potential for our area,” Mike Fabishak, CEO of the Greater Milwaukee AGC says. “The influx of relatively well-paying manufacturing jobs and the ancillary businesses to support them, we see those as much-needed momentum that will provide a boost to a local development market that was already fairly strong to begin with.”

Fabishak also said the size and scale of the development could boost housing, schools, retail and other ancillary businesses in southeastern Wisconsin over the next five to six years, as well as additional corporate investment.  

“We obviously look at the capacity to get this work done which will be challenging with the tight employment situation we have right now,” Fabishak says. “The AGC of Greater Milwaukee has been engaged in workforce development initiatives for the past 20 years so we do believe we are poised to deal with employment demand like this.”

According to the agreement,  the legislature will pursue passage of a law to create an “electronics and technology manufacturing zone” in southeast Wisconsin that would have expedited permitting, a construction sales tax exemption and refundable credits for capital invested and jobs created. Since the announcement, Foxconn has hinted that it might build a second facility in Dane County, near Madison.