Foxconn buying WaterMark building for Green Bay innovation center

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Foxconn has entered an agreement to purchase the WaterMark building in downtown Green Bay.

The Taiwan-based technology company plans to open an innovation center later this year. The company plans to hire 200 workers for the Green Bay location.

Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou made the announcement during a Friday morning news conference on Green Bay's CityDeck.

Click here to watch the news conference on the WBAY Facebook page.

"They are going to stay in the great state of Wisconsin, and other millenials like them are going come to the state of Wisconsin because we have some of the most exciting technology and innovation in the world and part of it's going to happen right here in Green Bay at this innovation center," said Gov. Scott Walker.

This comes one day after Foxconn held a ceremonial groundbreaking on its $10 billion Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Mount Pleasant.

The focus of the Green Bay innovation center will be developing applications for Foxconn's 8K+5G display technology. The company says the Mount Pleasant factory will be the first location outside of Asia to make these displays.

“We are excited to expand our ‘Wisconn Valley Innovation Center’ network to Northeast Wisconsin where we hope it will inspire innovative ideas and catalyze cutting-edge solutions from companies and entrepreneurs in that part of the state. The innovation center at Green Bay will play a key role in our goal to create a vibrant AI 8K+5G ecosystem in the U.S., with Wisconsin at the heart of this vision,” said Terry Gou, Foxconn Founder and CEO.

The WaterMark building, located at 301 N. Washington Street, is the former home of H.C. Prange and Younker’s Department Store in downtown Green Bay. Stores and restaurants in the building will become tenants of Foxconn.

The six-story building offers 75,000 square feet of office space. Action 2 News was given a tour of the building and the sixth floor space that will be taken over by Foxconn.

“Foxconn is choosing to invest in Wisconsin once again by extending their Wisconn Valley Innovation Network to right here in Northeastern Wisconsin. This is yet another Foxconn Bonus. We have already seen the ripple effect of Foxconn through their selection of subcontractors from throughout Wisconsin,” said Gov. Scott Walker.

Foxconn says it will also work to attract top talent from UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, St. Norbert College, and other area schools.

In February, UWGB announced it was building a new engineering school on campus and offering a four-year mechanical engineering program.

"I think the timing on this is perfect," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. "I mean I think the downtown is ready for this. I think our education workforce is ready for this. And you're right when you talk about UW-Green Bay with their engineering school and you look at all the work that's being done at NWTC, as well in that whole STEM area that can all feed into this Foxconn technology center."

This is the second significant tech development coming to Green Bay. Last October, the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft announced a partnership for a Titletown Tech technology hub. It will include labs, an accelerator for start-ups, and venture capital funding.

The two-story, 46,000-square foot Titletown Tech facility is expected to open in the fall in the Titletown District.

Meanwhile, Downtown Green Bay is working to come up with housing options for the new Foxconn workers. The plan is to add townhomes, apartments and condos.

"There were developers here at this announcement who we are talking about residential, so it will happen immediately," says Downtown Green Bay's Executive Director, Jeff Mirkes.

"We can only celebrate so long on an announcement like this. But there will be economic development people today, from the city and Downtown Green Bay and other organizations and the Chamber of Commerce and the New North who aren't going to quit today and celebrate, because we have businesses to talk to about what just happened."

Walker, House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump were all on hand in Mount Pleasant on Thursday as Foxconn officially began construction on the new 20-million-square-foot display screen manufacturing campus.

"As Foxconn has discovered, there is no better place to build, higher in growth than right here in the United States. America is open for business more than it has ever been open for business," Trump said.

Critics call the Foxconn deal a "$4 billion giveaway to a multinational corporation."

"The Foxconn deal has been about nothing more than getting Governor Walker reelected. And Wisconsin families and taxpayers are going to pay dearly for it. At over $4 billion this makes the Foxconn deal the single biggest public campaign contribution in history," said State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).