Highly unlikely Foxconn could be lured to Waukesha County
Area leaders see plenty of benefits if company comes to Wisconsin

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

July 19, 2017

BROOKFIELD - The numbers associated with Foxconn's proposal to come to Wisconsin make it very appealing: a $7 billion plant that would employ as many as 10,000 people. While it has turned the heads of area municipal leaders, they don't see the Taiwanese technology company locating in their city because of another number: about 1,000 square feet of space that is needed for the plant.

Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto said when he heard the company that makes Apple's iPhones was considering a possible move to Wisconsin, he reached out to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, but learned the city didn't have the square footage of space needed for Foxconn.

However, Ponto said he believes that ancillary businesses will follow Foxconn and he hopes they select Brookfield for their facilities.

"We have a new office park, Northbrook Commerce Center on Gumina Road, which is all set to go and all we need to is a prospective tenant and we could build to suit," Ponto said.

The spin-off benefits of Foxconn building in Kenosha or Racine counties could be huge for Waukesha County, including Brookfield, Ponto said.

"I think it would be a shot in general for Wisconsin's manufacturing economy," he said. "It would help confirm Wisconsin's historic leadership in manufacturing."

Needed space

To put the size of Foxconn's proposal into perspective, Tim Casey, director of economic development for Waukesha County Center for Growth, Inc., said it's possible the county could configure land measuring 200, 300 or 400 acres for the right project, but there is nothing close to the 1,000 acres Foxconn is believed to need. In fact, Casey said all of the Pabst Farms development in Oconomowoc measures 1,600 acres and the business park is only a portion of that.

Oconomowoc Mayor David Nold said he has not been contacted by anyone representing Foxconn and he doesn't think the city has the physical resources that the company needs, including a large volume of water. Nevertheless, he is excited the company could come to the state.

"It's nice if they come to the state and create 10,000 jobs; it will help everyone," Nold said. "Hopefully it will turn out the best for all of us."

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said getting Foxconn to build here is largely a state issue.

"I think it would be great to be in Racine or Kenosha and the support companies would be from Waukesha," Reilly said.

He believes some people who work in Waukesha may end up working at Foxconn, but thinks it's more likely that other companies already located in Waukesha would be able to benefit from creating a relationship with the large company.

Ponto said the state government is taking the lead on drawing Foxconn here.

"That would be a big plus and would have positive effects throughout the state," he said.

Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com