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

Foxconn Official Says Limited Production Will Start In Racine County This Spring

Chuck Quirmbach
Brand Cheng, CEO of Foxconn Industrial Internet, speaks Friday at UW-Milwaukee.

A top Foxconn executive says his company continues to work on projects in Wisconsin and may start making a product in about two months.

Brand Cheng is CEO of Foxconn Industrial Internet, which provides equipment for communication, cloud computing (data storage and computing power) and other ways for firms to develop smart, or more efficient, manufacturing. He spoke Friday afternoon at an engineering research conference at UW-Milwaukee.

At the Foxconn campus being built in Racine County's village of Mount Pleasant, Cheng says, "We are going to start production at the end of April for cyber security products."

He says production would occur at Foxconn's multi-purpose building, which appeared to be completed in 2019. Cheng says the building is about 100,000 square feet.

READ: Foxconn's Promises Slow To Materialize In Wisconsin

Cheng also says by November 2020, a smart manufacturing center with about 270,000 square feet will open, and work continues on a much larger factory that will make small LCD display panels.

He said nothing about the controversies surrounding the Taiwan-based firm in recent months. Those include whether Foxconn will apply soon for state tax credits, which are based on the number of people employed and the amount of investment the firm makes.

A statement Friday from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation reads:

"WEDC expects to receive a report from Foxconn by April 1 detailing the company’s hiring numbers and capital investments for 2019. Once the report is submitted, it will be reviewed by an independent, third-party auditor which will report its findings to WEDC and Foxconn. As established in the contract, WEDC will then conduct its own verification process to determine the company’s eligibility for tax credits under the contract. It is anticipated the verification process will take several months to complete."

During his Friday appearance in Milwaukee, Cheng didn't discuss a request by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' administration to change Foxconn's contract with the state, based upon the state's belief that Foxconn's presence in Wisconsin will be smaller than originally announced in 2017 by former Gov. Scott Walker.

READ: Evers, Top Aide Seek To Reassure Milwaukee Business Community About Foxconn's Future

In response to an inquiry from WUWM, WEDC issued a statement on the status of any contract talks:

"WEDC and Foxconn officials continue to meet to discuss the project on a regular basis. WEDC routinely works with businesses to amend their contracts to reflect changes that occur during the course of a project. The current project that’s going on in Racine is different than what the contract was negotiated for and entered into. As Foxconn’s business plans are evolving, we stand ready to work with them on an amendment to their process so the contract and the project are aligned."

A Foxconn spokesperson accompanying Cheng at UW-Milwaukee declined to comment on Cheng's announcement regarding the timing of production work at Mount Pleasant.

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