Wisconsin working on incentives to lure Foxconn

Associated Press

July 21, 2017

In this 2010 file photo, a worker looks out through the logo at the entrance of the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
Associated Press

MADISON  - Wisconsin is working on a package of incentives to lure Taiwanese iPhone manufacturer Foxconn to the state as part of a deal that two state lawmakers said Thursday they believe could come as soon as the end of the month.  

Wisconsin is one of several Midwest states vying for Foxconn as it considers building a $7 billion display panel manufacturing plant that could employ up to 10,000 people. The company was expected to announce its decision by early August. Michigan passed new economic incentives to sweeten its deal for Foxconn last week.  

 Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told The Associated Press on Thursday that "huge, big numbers" are being talked about to help land Foxconn, but he had no direct knowledge of what may be offered.   

"I know they're working on a (deal) but we don't have anything yet," he said.

Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Luther Olsen both said the state could announce a deal by the end of the month, but neither of them knew what incentives may be offered either.  

Walker declined to discuss details of the ongoing negotiations.  

 "We don't have a specific proposal on the table," Walker told reporters. "Anything that's being talked about right now is purely speculative."  

Walker and state economic development officials have repeatedly declined to comment about Foxconn, saying they can't discuss ongoing negotiations with potential new businesses.   

Nygren, who is co-chairman of the Legislature's budget committee, said incentives for Foxconn would not be included in the two-year budget currently being worked on that's already three weeks past due. But he said money being considered for tax cuts now, like $200 million Walker wanted to use to cut income taxes, may instead be needed for incentives later as part of any deal with Foxconn.  

Nygren was optimistic that Wisconsin would win the high-stakes race to land Foxconn, but he stressed that talks were fluid and the company could just as easily choose another state. He and other lawmakers attended a barbecue at the governor's mansion with Walker and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou last week.  

"It was very clear a deal could come as quickly as the end of the month," Nygren said.

Olsen, who agreed with that timeline, said he wanted to hold off on passing Wisconsin's overdue state budget "until we know what's going on with this."  "This is something we have to take seriously if they decide to come to Wisconsin," Olsen said of incentives for Foxconn. "We have to make sure we're in fiscal shape to fulfill the obligations that are being presented to Foxconn to come to Wisconsin."