Many looking to score from FoxConn windfall
Milwaukee 7 working to expand local business

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

Sept. 12, 2017

GRAFTON — Local economic efforts are targeting FoxConn as a source of future jobs and business expansion.

Officials from the Milwaukee 7, a collaboration of economic development efforts between Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Kenosha and Racine counties, spoke to the Ozaukee County Board Wednesday about plans for the next few years, in light of the recent deal to bring FoxConn to Wisconsin.

“(Milwaukee 7) is on its way to creating a globally competitive region,” said Jim Wall, Milwaukee 7 vice president of investor relations and business development.

The FoxConn bill creating incentives for the company to select Wisconsin as its newest location passed in the state Assembly in mid-August, and again in the Joint Committee on Finance last week. It is on the Senate schedule for consideration today.

  The Taiwan-based FoxConn is expected to hire an estimated 13,000 people in the state, including engineers and skilled workers.
Source: Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Milwaukee 7’s goal is to attract FoxConn to companies in the seven-county area, specifically, for material and supply needs. Exactly where the company will locate its facility has not yet been decided, but once that location is chosen, other businesses will be affected. FoxConn is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, making a wide variety of items for other companies, including Sony, Apple and Nintendo, among others.

“They’re a manufacturing company. They do a lot more than iPhones. … They’re in a lot of different areas, they’re very diverse,” said Logan Dawson, Milwaukee 7’s director of corporate expansion and attraction.

Once FoxConn comes to Wisconsin, other companies that create the materials Fox-Conn needs for its manufacturing will be needed as well.

“They’re thinking somewhere between 100 and 150 new suppliers coming into the region,” Dawson said.

“When that conversation starts, we’re going to be ready with a list of companies,” he added.

Several County Board supervisors had questions about what that means, but the answers are vague at the moment. Pat O’Brien, executive director of Milwaukee 7, and Dawson pointed out that the plant, wherever it ends up being located, will not be completed and running for several years.

As the time for FoxConn to kick off its operations draws near, Milwaukee 7 intends to promote those companies in its sevencounty area which could become a part of that 100plus company supply chain, such as Milwaukee Tool or Rockwell Automation, among many others.

“Our challenge here is to gain the confidence of Fox-Conn, and get inside the engine,” O’Brien said.

While O’Brien conceded that the FoxConn deal is on a different scale than Milwaukee 7’s previous projects, he and Dawson pointed out that attracting business is something with which the group is very familiar.

“We’ve never done anything this big, but the deal is all the same, just a couple more zeros,” O’Brien said.

Milwaukee 7 was formed in 2005 to promote economic development and business expansion throughout the region as a whole. According to information from its website, the FoxConn plant planned for southeastern Wisconsin is projected to support 16,000 jobs during its four-year construction and employ 13,000 people once completed, as well as supporting as many as 20,000 more jobs in the state once the plant is fully operational.

Efforts beginning now to provide pieces of the supply chain in the Milwaukee 7 region are part of the group’s ongoing efforts across the past 12 years.

“Milwaukee 7 is so much more than economic development, it leads the rally cry for our entire region,” Wall said.

FoxConn is based in Taiwan, with plants in Europe, Asia, Brazil, India and Mexico, manufacturing electronics for major technology companies in America, Canada, Finland, Japan and China.

Email: mboyung@conleynet.com