Foxconn announced this week a change in direction in the focus of future operations in Racine County. It is a change that doesn’t concern officials in Green Bay’s City Hall. They believe Foxconn is still committed to opening its innovation center in the city’s downtown.
Foxconn now says the focus of their new facility in southeast Wisconsin will be research and development instead of manufacturing. A change in course causing concern for some, but not for Green Bay’s economic development director.
“White noise, loud noise. Look, it’s an adjustment,” said Kevin Vonck.
Last June Foxconn’s CEO came to Green Bay and announced he was purchasing the Watermark building to open an innovation center employing some 200 people. The center’s goal to develop applications for Foxconn’s display screens. It is a project which Vonck says is moving forward.
“We anticipate in the coming weeks we’ll get those building plans, be able to review and let them work on their build-out. I think they’d like to get occupancy sometime this spring or perhaps this summer,” Vonck said.
“I’m not concerned, if they continue their commitment,” said Representative David Steffen (R-Green Bay).
Representative Steffen says lawmakers are still weighing the announcement and pledging to hold Foxconn to its promise to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10 billion in exchange for $4 billion in state incentives.
“We’re going to be doing everything we can as a legislature to ensure that the contract is fully maintained,” Steffen said.
But some like Democratic Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) say Foxconn is walking back their promises. “The only thing that hasn’t changed is that this has been a bad deal for Wisconsin since the start,” Taylor said in a statement.
A new development the city will follow closely.
“If there are changes in state legislation or policy that impact this and has a ripple affect, we’ll adjust. But for now, we don’t see anything really changing up here for the company,” said Vonck.