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

Evers Says He's 'Pro-Foxconn' And That The State And Company Will Talk

Chuck Quirmbach
Foxconn says this is a manufacturing building being constructed in Mount Pleasant.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says state officials will meet with Foxconn to try to solve an apparent disagreement with the firm over potential taxpayer subsidies. He also says his administration is "pro-Foxconn." But the leader of Wisconsin's economic development agency promises clearer scrutiny of the Taiwan-based company's job creation claims. 

News reports over the last few days indicate the Evers administration has told Foxconn it may not qualify for a state incentive package early next year unless Wisconsin's contract with the firm is changed. Foxconn says it's hiring people and investing millions of dollars in buildings, including a manufacturing and research center in Racine County, in what the Walker administration dubbed Wisconn Valley.

READ: Reports: Foxconn Currently Ineligible For Tax Credits

On Tuesday night in Menomonee Falls, Evers offered his first comments to the news media on the apparent disagreement with Foxconn.  

"We will sit down with them and talk about the future. But from my vantage point, nothing has changed.  We're very pro-Foxconn. We want them to succeed. We want to make sure the taxpayers are represented and we have accountability," Evers told reporters.

But on the accountability issue, the Legislative Audit Bureau warned Tuesday for the second year in a row, that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) needs to change its procedures to make sure Foxconn doesn't get tax credits for employees who don't work in Wisconsin. Missy Hughes, who Evers appointed three months ago to take over as secretary and CEO of WEDC,  says she understands auditors want firmer written guidelines.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes (center) and Gov. Tony Evers (left) speak Tuesday at a jobs announcement at Milwaukee Tool Corp. in Menomonee Falls.

READ: Foxconn Could Cost Wisconsin Billions, Study Says

"What's really important is to have a clear definition of what it means to be a job and qualifying for that job. And when you're working at Foxconn, you're right on the border there. And so, we all need to understand if someone's coming from Illinois, what does that mean? But what does it also mean if somebody's spending time in California, but it's for the benefit of what's happening in Wisconn Valley. All of these conversations need to happen and we need to have a good understanding about it," Hughes said.

She says she plans to have that "understanding" in place by the time Foxconn submits its jobs numbers for 2019, an action due no later than April 1, 2020.  

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

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