Foxconn site selection ‘imminent,’ Walker administration official says

MADISON -- Foxconn's site selection process is "imminent" and the company will choose a location in southeastern Wisconsin site for its proposed $10 billion plant in the next couple weeks, the secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said today.

Committee hearing on Foxconn

"Foxconn is ready to go," WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan said, though construction hinges on legislative approval of a $3 billion incentives package for Foxconn, and Senate Republicans said this week they want to pass a state budget first.

Foxconn is considering building a facility in the Village of Mount Pleasant in Racine County or the Town of Paris in Kenosha County.

Committee hearing on Foxconn

Hogan's comments came during his testimony at a public hearing on the bill in the Assembly's Jobs and the Economy hearing. Officials from Gov. Scott Walker's administration testified and then answered lawmakers' questions for more than one hour.

Foxconn will pay a starting salary of $20 an hour at its southeastern Wisconsin plant, or $41,600 per year. Some 9,000 of the proposed 13,000 workers will earn this wage, a Walker administration official said. The average salary at the facility will be more than $53,000 a year, Walker has said.

One Milwaukee Democrat wants a guarantee with the Foxconn promises.

State Rep. Christine Sinicki, (D - Milwaukee)

"If they have said they'll be starting at $20 an hour, can we get that in writing in a bill?" asked state Rep. Chris Sinicki, D-Milwaukee.

Walker administration officials said Foxconn would struggle to find high-skilled workers if it paid less than that. In addition, the company would not get any tax breaks from the state for a job that pays less than $30,000 a year, they said.

State Rep. Adam Neylon, the Republican who chairs the committee, said this week that he wanted his panel to vote on the bill next Tuesday.

Democrats questioned the timeline, and said they were concerned that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau hadn't yet been able to produce an analysis of the bill's fiscal impact on the state.

No Foxconn executives attended the hearing, though Neylon read a statement from founder Terry Gou into the record. The lack of Foxconn representatives drew complaints from Democrats on the committee.

Walker administration officials said the Foxconn plant, which will make LCD panels for flat-screen TVs, will create a new "ecosystem" of high-tech manufacturing in Wisconsin. The company plans to use Wisconsin firms as its supply chain, they said.

The conservative group Americans For Prosperity, usually an ally of Walker's, announced Thursday that it was opposing the special session incentives bill because it provides tax breaks to Foxconn that other companies don't receive.

Committee hearing on Foxconn

Lawmakers had scheduled three hours of testimony from invited speakers, including the heads of state agencies. But the list of two dozen invitees went over by five hours, meaning the public didn't begin speaking on the bill until 9:30 p.m.