Wisconsin Gov. Walker Signs $3 Billion Foxconn Incentive Deal

By Shayndi Raice Features Dow Jones Newswires

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed Monday a bill that would give Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group $3 billion in economic incentives to open a mega-plant in the state.

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The package garnered pushback from Democratic lawmakers, who said the deal was bad for taxpayers. But the Republican-controlled state legislature easily passed the bill, which was introduced in July in a White House ceremony by Mr. Walker and President Donald Trump.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., plans to invest $10 billion to build a 20 million square-foot campus in southeastern Wisconsin that could employ up to 13,000 workers over a period of six years. The facility would build liquid-crystal display technology, or LCD screens.

"This is a truly transformational step for our state," Mr. Walker said in a statement.

In addition to the jobs created directly from the plant, Mr. Walker had argued the deal would help turn the state into a technology hub that could attract young workers.

But Democrats raised concerns about the price tag and whether the deal would actually bring the number of jobs promised to the state. A state fiscal analysis found that taxpayers wouldn't recoup their investment until the 2042-2043 fiscal year.

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Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling said the governor and Republicans "are putting homegrown businesses at a competitive disadvantage while committing taxpayers to decades of economic costs and liabilities."

Democrats also raised concerns over whether Foxconn would follow through on its promises. In 2014, the company explored opening a $40 million facility in Pennsylvania that never materialized.

Republicans praised the bill signing. "Today Wisconsin is officially saying yes to a $10 billion development project, 13,000 careers and new opportunities throughout Wisconsin," said State Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican from Rochester, in a statement.

The deal has also raised questions about the effectiveness of tax incentives in luring companies to invest in states. The total annual cost of tax incentives reached $45 billion by 2015, according to data from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Write to Shayndi Raice at shayndi.raice@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2017 17:45 ET (21:45 GMT)