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WUWM’s Chuck Quirmbach reports on innovation in southeastern Wisconsin.

Latest Foxconn Fight Triggers Praise, Caution Among The Company's Neighbors

Chuck Quirmbach
The Mahoney's house (foreground) isn't far from the Foxconn buildings under construction.

News that the Wisconsin governor's office wants changes in the state's contract with Foxconn is being greeted with praise — and caution — in Racine County.

Foxconn says it continues to hire people. The company also says it's building a manufacturing and research center south of State Highway 11 in Mount Pleasant. 

READ: Reports: Foxconn Currently Ineligible For Tax Credits

But several media reported Friday that over the last few months, the Evers administration has been warning the Taiwan-based electronics giant. The warning goes like this: the manufacturing plant, which was downsized by Foxconn last year and nearly canceled this year, won't earn taxpayer subsidies unless a contract approved during the Walker administration is changed. 

Gov. Tony Evers' tougher stance pleases Kim Mahoney, whose family has refused to sell to Foxconn and now has the last house in a former neighborhood north of County Highway KR.

Mahoney says when Foxconn decided to build smaller LCD display panels, things changed.

"That facility was supposed to generate up to 13,000 manufacturing jobs. And as Scott Walker repeatedly said, family-supporting manufacturing jobs.  [But] 1,500 research and development jobs don't do much for unemployed people in the city of Racine," Mahoney told WUWM.

Mahoney says it seems to her that Foxconn has been engaged in bait and switch tactics in Racine County.  Foxconn argues otherwise. Earlier this month, Foxconn founder Terry Gou told a Milwaukee holiday party that the company remains committed to Racine County and Wisconsin.  

READ: Foxconn's Terry Gou Says 'I Am Committed To Wisconsin'

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
The Hiawatha Bar and Grill in Sturtevant is just east of Foxconn.

At the Hiawatha Bar and Grill in Sturtevant, just east of Foxconn, football fans gathered Sunday to watch the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on television. Some were also willing to talk about Foxconn. Steve Pollock of Racine says he hasn't been a Foxconn supporter. But he urges Wisconsin to be careful.

"I think they should tread lightly because now, if Foxconn decides to completely pull out, who gets stuck for the bill for the infrastructure, for the power grid they've put in, for all the homes that have been taken and razed?" Pollock asked.

Racine County officials have argued local taxpayers would be protected. But another bar customer urged the governor, Foxconn and even key Foxconn-backer President Donald Trump to try to reach an agreement on this latest fight over the company.

Support is provided by Dr. Lawrence and Mrs. Hannah Goodman for Innovation reporting.


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