GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Foxconn executive and Gov. Scott Walker were in Green Bay to explain how local businesses in the northern part of the state will benefit from a massive plant in southern Wisconsin.
As Action 2 News reported, the Foxconn facility will be built in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. It was June when we first told you the Taiwanese tech giant was considering Wisconsin as the home of its new plant.
Gov. Walker finalized the deal last month.
Thursday at the 2017 New North Summit in downtown Green Bay, Governor Walker insisted the plant will be good for business in all corners of the state. An online tool called the Supply Chain Marketplace is what Gov. Walker calls the tool to connect companies across the state to the Foxconn plant.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) estimates Foxconn will spend $1.4 billion in supplier purchases from Wisconsin companies.
This Supply Chain Marketplace website, which received $99,000 in grant money from WEDC, lets potential suppliers from anywhere in the state log on to a portal connecting them with the buyers who need supplies.
The governor says this website is the key to making sure Foxconn is profitable for businesses across Wisconsin, including the 10,000 construction workers necessary to build the sprawling campus.
“Certainly it's going to be a big deal down in Racine and that region, but it's going to be a big deal if we capitalize on it all over the state of Wisconsin. You can help do this first in construction phase, and secondly as we see the supply chain going forward,” Gov. Walker told an audience of hundreds of people Thursday.
The governor’s opponents say his speech was nothing more than a glorified campaign stop, and that the Racine county plant will benefit Illinois more than Wisconsin.
State Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, tells us the governor is trying to sell Foxconn to places already doubtful it will have a positive impact on their area.
“Outside of southeast Wisconsin, people don't believe this is going to work. So having him being in Green Bay talking about a website that is going to be magically creating jobs in Green Bay, I just think it's part of the sales pitch,” Evers told Action 2 News. “I don't believe it's going to work, and I feel badly that we're putting $3 billion into one company's pocket."
"I absolutely believe that it will work real well for Illinois. They didn't have to put up the $3 billion. Some of the folks that live in the northern part of Illinois will get jobs there,” Evers said.
Gov. Walker acknowledges a worker shortage issue, handing out a full-page Wisconsin Workforce Agenda at several events with his plans to better educate and train people to go into the workforce. He says Foxconn needs help from all over the state.
"In Racine County, in southeastern Wisconsin, there are not enough businesses, there are not enough contractors, there are not enough bodies to build something as big as 32-million square feet,” said the Governor.
An executive with Foxconn plans to return to Green Bay in the first quarter of 2018 with a more specific plan for potential suppliers, and asked for the public’s patience as it gets sorted out.