Foxconn in Wisconsin—What does that mean for Waukesha County?

-Tim Casey, director of economic development, Waukesha County Center for Growth

The waiting was worth it—Foxconn has announced it will have a fully-functional manufacturing plant in Wisconsin as soon as 2020. So what does that mean for Waukesha County and the rest of the region?

For starters, Foxconn increased the number of jobs originally promised from 10,000 to 13,000. To give some perspective, Quad/Graphics, one of the largest employers in the manufacturing sector in Waukesha County, employs 6,000 people. Foxconn could employ as many people as Quad/Graphics and Epic Systems combined over a period of several years.

In addition to the jobs Foxconn will directly bring to the state, estimates are that the Foxconn project could generate at least 22,000 jobs in supporting sectors.

The facility Foxconn will build is estimated to be 20 million square feet over the span of 1,000 acres. That’s the size of 11 Lambeau Fields or 20 Brookfield Square malls—roughly the same size as the entire Village of Nashotah. It’ll become one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world. In order to build that facility, it’s estimated 10,000 construction jobs will be needed each year for the next four years.

“Waukesha County Technical College is already preparing students for the kind of jobs that might be available at a high-tech company like Foxconn, whether those jobs are in manufacturing or other fields like information technology, human resources or accounting,” said WCTC Dean of Applied Technologies Mike Shiels. “We look forward to scaling up to meet the needs of Foxconn and other companies in its supply chain.”

Secondly, Foxconn is expected to make $4.26 billion in supplier purchases annually. About one-third of that will be sourced from companies inside Wisconsin. Foxconn has asked for information on their complete supply-chain needs within 100 miles of the site—as far north as Fond du Lac and Green Bay and as far west as Madison and Beloit. That includes Waukesha County.

We have a strong manufacturing base in Waukesha County, and many of our manufacturers can supply the components Foxconn would need. Industries such as plastics, thin-film technology, flexible printing, adhesives and electronic components are abundant here and those companies are ready to embrace any opportunities that a partnership with Foxconn could bring.

“The impact of having Foxconn move here will be profound,” said Jeff Kerlin, president and CEO of Tailored Label Products in Menomonee Falls. “From injection molding to machining to printing, the vastness of our local capabilities is certain to be attractive to Foxconn, since it will need to partner with local vendors to round out its supply chain needs. This should prove to be highly beneficial for both Foxconn and the local manufacturers that will support it.”

This is a game-changer for the state of Wisconsin. This is by far the biggest economic development project in the history of the state of Wisconsin, and it’s the biggest investment from a foreign company in terms of job creation in the history of the United States—and one of the biggest in terms of capital investment. Business investment anywhere in the Milwaukee 7 region is good for all of us and this is a great opportunity for us to flex our regional partnerships and work together to make the region stronger.

We at the Waukesha County Center for Growth and the Waukesha County Business Alliance recognize that our state has never had an opportunity like this and the ripple effect in our economy will be huge.