By Natalia Castro
Foxconn builds electronics for nearly every major technology company in the world, and now it is creating jobs and opportunities for the American people. The company’s newest factory in southern Wisconsin could be a turning point in bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., but not just traditional manufacturing, Foxconn is bringing with it new technology to advance the manufacturing sector of our stagnant economy.
Wisconsin led a bidding war against other states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas to persuade the company to enter their backyard; a bidding war that will cost the state $3 billion in incentives, but the economic incentive to attract Foxconn was far greater than this cost.
The state of Wisconsin has seen city after city turn to ghost town due to economic uncertainty long after the recession. An Economic Policy Institute report found that from January 2000 to December 2014 the U.S. lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs. Of the 2.3 million of those jobs lost directly due to the 2008 recession, only 900,000 have been recovered, other companies found it simpler to join the decade old trend of moving overseas.
This has left city after city baron from lack of economic opportunity. Not only are jobs deeply in demand but long-term investment to improve the standard of living among the people in Wisconsin are also needed.
While the 20-million square foot Foxconn plant will initially employ 3,000 people, Governor Scott Walker defends that the company will ultimately employ closer to 13,000 people at the site. Additionally, the construction alone would create 10,000 new construction jobs.
What has Wisconsin residents most excited, is Foxconn’s plan to exceed the states with an average annual salary of $45,240 to pay their workers on average $53,875 a year.
Along with the salary increases, Foxconn brings an entirely new industry to the state.
The plant will create liquid crystal display or LCD products for companies such as Apple and Google. This type of advanced manufacturing is seen nowhere else in the U.S., making the Wisconsin the first state to house a factory which can fully produce an LCD system.
This is extremely important for the states university system, with over 75,000 graduates a year from the University of Wisconsin system and a significant amount coming from the Wisconsin Technical College System, Foxconn is employing a labor force left dormant through economic turmoil and uncertainty.
Financial Times of July 2017 explains the advanced manufacturing technology being used at Foxconn is still in its early stages of commercialization, but being able to produce the product in the U.S. will help foster innovation for the technologies new application in fields such as medical imaging.
Governor Walker predicts this could be the seeds to developing the Wisconsin Valley, noting the transformative effect Silicon Valley had on the San Francisco Bay Area.
His predictions might not be far off either; while this is bringing education, higher wages, and technological innovation to the state of Wisconsin, it is also bringing these benefits to the surrounding area.
Despite losing their bid to host the factory, business owners in Northern Illinois are eager to experience the benefits of the factory production as well, with many Illinois construction companies, suppliers and other related businesses becoming involved in the building project.
The Chicago Tribune’s Robert Reed, urges individuals not to “underestimate the role O’Hare International Airport will assuredly play in serving the ongoing global traveling and air transit needs of Foxconn management, vendors and partners.”
Business owners have even engaged in talks to create an ancillary business in Illinois to support the factory, but as the Chicago Sun Times warns, in order for this plan to catch investment, politicians must find a way to solve the state financial woes. With high debt and extremely high property taxes, business owners see little incentive for continue expanding on the Illinois side of the border.
The Foxconn factory in Wisconsin could be the start of the Wisconsin Valley, which will harbor innovation in technological manufacturing and revive the stagnant economy in many states still suffering from the 2008 recession. Other states, like Illinois must take note – manufacturing is not dead in America, it just needed an upgrade.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.