Mount Pleasant voted 4-2 Monday night to hire a project director specifically for a potential $10 billion factory Foxconn Technology Group hopes to build.
Claude Lois, originally a candidate for village administrator, will assume the role on a one-year contract with Kappur and Associates. He was previously the mayor of Burlington from 2000 to 2008.
“We are paying the firm he works for 20k per month,” said David DeGroot, the village president. “They deal with the benefits. Expect 50 hour weeks at $100 per hour.”
Several of the trustees expressed that they felt blindsided by the new position coming before the board while the village is still looking to fill it’s village administrator position, which has been vacant for more than a year. The job will pay roughly $20,000 a month and the village will be able to terminate the position without cause with 30 days notice.
The villages of Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant are the leading candidates for the Foxconn plant, a Taiwanese technology manufacturer that announced a Wisconsin factory in July. And right now, the Racine County Economic Development Corporation is working with Mount Pleasant to land the company.
Foxconn Technology Group will bring up to 13,000 new jobs and build a $10 billion manufacturing campus in southeastern Wisconsin by 2020. The contract manufacturer wants to build a 20 million square foot manufacturing campus to make Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) in southeast Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin State Assembly approved a $3 billion incentive program to lure electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group to southeast Wisconsin last week.
Alan Marcuvitz, an attorney working for the village, said hiring a project director is critical for the village if it wants to land the factory.
“Bringing in a project director to make this project happen in the village is as clear a signal as we can send to Foxconn that we want this project, that we’re ready for this project, and we have the team available to make it happen,” Marcuvitz said as he admonished the trustees to vote in the affirmative confirming Lois as project director.
There’s been no announcement of the location of the plant, but Marcuvitz said he thinks one will be coming soon.
Still not all the trustees were convinced. Trustees Jon Hansen and Gary Feest voted against hiring a Project Director. They both mentioned a lack of transparency in the process and communication for the position and Foxconn in general. Feest, also, specifically expressed his displeasure with the administrator process being held up once more while the village pivoted to the creation of the position and the hiring of Lois for it.
Village President Dave Degroot said that the workload associated with Foxconn coming to Mount Pleasant will be too great for current village employees like Community Development Director Sam Schultz and interim Village Administrator Tim Zarzecki to handle on their own.
DeGroot made clear he was not casting aspersions on the work ethic of Schultz or Zarzecki. But said that Sam does not have the “bandwidth” for the workload and that a “handoff” for some of the work needs to happen. And added that, “We cannot continue to stumble along in this village with Tim half the time at the police station half the time here. Doing as best as he can, but frankly none of the work is getting done.”
No details were divulged regarding what exactly that workload entails. Trustee Jon Hansen highlighted this saying, “Where is the job description, I have not seen one.” Still, Marcuvitz and board members like DeGroot and Hewitt maintained that the work will be excessive.
“If they say they want to come here there is 1,000 different things that need to be done,” Marcuvitz said. “I’m not really exaggerating.”
The breadth of work required by a Foxconn plant seemed to drive the villages choice of Lois for the position. DeGroot commented during the meeting on Lois’s work leading Burlington through a long period of redevelopment. In Lois’s words, whether Foxconn comes to Mount Pleasant or Sturtevant or Pleasant Prairie, “It’s still gonna impact this area drastically.”
Lois said that while he hasn’t seen the comprehensive planning document for the village he expects some changes will need to be made for a plant the size of the one proposed by Foxconn. And if Lois’s time in Burlington is an indicator, Mount Pleasant will see changes unlike ever before.
“We redesigned our whole city,” he said.
Editor’s note: This version of the story clarifies that Lois was hire through a consulting firm and the $20,000 per month includes his salary and benefits.
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