Foxconn Technology Group announced Friday that it plans to open an office in Green Bay that will bring at least 200 high-tech jobs, a chance for the company to spread benefits and goodwill more widely amid doubts that the company's massive southeastern Wisconsin campus will boost the economy statewide.
Gov. Scott Walker has been promising for months that the display screen manufacturing campus Foxconn plans to build in Mount Pleasant in Racine County will transform Wisconsin's economy. He signed a bill last year that provides up to $4.5 billion in state incentives for the project.
Critics have questioned how much impact the Taiwanese electronics company will have on Wisconsin's economy as a whole. Sixty-one percent of respondents to a Marquette University Law School statewide poll released last week said they didn't think the company would directly benefit businesses where they live.
The company announced Friday that it has reached an agreement to purchase a six-story, 75,000-square-foot building in downtown Green Bay and use it as a so-called "innovation center." The center will work with start-ups and other businesses to develop applications for Foxconn screens, the company and Walker's office said.
"This investment marks another commitment by Foxconn to the State of Wisconsin and will ensure Foxconn's contributions go well beyond the (Mount Pleasant campus) and our North American headquarters in the City of Milwaukee," Foxconn CEO Terry Gau said in the announcement.
Foxconn officials announced on June 15 they had purchased a downtown Milwaukee building to house their North American headquarters and an innovation center.
The Green Bay center could translate to a major boost for Walker with northeastern Wisconsin voters. The region trends conservative and the governor presumably will need to do well there to help offset Democratic votes in Madison and Milwaukee.
"Foxconn's decision to expand ... to northeastern Wisconsin is yet another example of the 'Foxconn Bonus' that goes above and beyond the company's historic investment in Racine County," Walker said in a news release Friday. "Whether it is the construction-related jobs that are being created right now throughout the state or key investments such as this, Foxconn is already having a positive impact on every region of our great state."
Foxconn officials said in the announcement they plan to close on the Green Bay property and open the innovation center later this year. The announcement did not elaborate or disclose terms of the purchase agreement.
The company didn't immediately reply to an email left in its general media inbox Friday morning seeking more details of the agreement. Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg and officials with New North, northeastern Wisconsin's economic development group, also didn't immediately reply to email and voicemail messages.
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