Foxconn's innovation centers in Green Bay, Eau Claire see little movement

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Last November, Foxconn bought a building in Downtown Green Bay with the intention of creating an innovation center.

It’s one of several purchases the Taiwanese tech giant made in cities across the state.

Now months later, Action 2 News decided to check in with the city to see if Foxconn is making any progress.

In Green Bay, Foxconn now owns the Watermark Building along the Fox River, a 6-story building.

“They purchased the whole thing. The only thing they did not purchase was the Children’s Museum,” said Kevin Vonck, Green Bay’s economic development director. However, now that the children’s museum has moved, Vonck "could see them purchasing it as well."

The Watermark building, which includes businesses like the Creamery and Broken Spoke, has been under Foxconn’s ownership since November of 2018.

“They took over as the landlord for all of those tenants,” said Vonck.

But since then, Foxconn hasn’t made much progress on its own use of the space. In 2018, when Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou and then-Gov. Scott Walker made the announcement on CityDeck, Action 2 News was told the innovation center would open by the end of the year, hiring about 200 workers (see related story).

“What they are working on is still preparing to do their build-out for the second floor,” said Vonck. “I know one thing they are working on is parking arrangements. The parking ramp is part of that structure. I know there were leases they didn’t find favorable in terms of developing, so they are going through the process of getting their arms around what all they have control over in terms of that parking ramp.”

Although there hasn’t been much movement for Foxconn, Vonck said there really isn’t any rush.

“They are operating the building well, they are paying taxes on it, there are no obligations, in terms of the city outstanding, left,” said Vonck. “Of course we would love to see more people in the building, bringing in some more action to downtown but for the time being we are happy with them as the landlord of the building.”

It seems to be a similar story in Eau Claire where Foxconn purchased two buildings last year.

“They have pulled building permits to do the renovations so they have taken that step,” said Aaron White, Eau Claire’s economic development manager. “As far as moving forward, they’ve identified who the contractor is.”
However, White they don’t have a set timeline for completion either.

“We’re very much in the same position. It would be a great project once it comes together, but we have a lot of projects we are working on so we will work with them as they need us to,” said White. “We didn’t get involved in any type of incentives, local incentives or anything like that, so we’re not under any type of rush or timeline to get things accomplished. It’s a matter about supporting them with however they choose to proceed.”