by Denise Lockwood and Mark Hertzberg
But hundreds of protesters showed up to a rally miles away from the historic groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday to voice their opposition to the project.
Anchored by Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, the campus will include multiple buildings totaling 22 million square feet on a 1,000-acre parcel in Mount Pleasant. The project is expected to generate $31 million per year in new property tax revenue, which is expected to pay for all of the public improvements and development costs incurred by the tax increment district.
The facility will manufacture liquid crystal display screens used by computers, televisions self-driving cars, aircraft systems and other products, according to published reports. The plant will be the first of its kind in North America and the only one not located in Asia.
President David DeGroot, Village of Mount Pleasant, said the project represents “an unprecedented investment” in Mount Pleasant.
“Today’s groundbreaking sets into motion the creation of thousands of family-supporting jobs and a ripple effect of economic development that will impact the entire state.”
County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, Racine County, highlighted the partnerships that have been formed with Foxconn and surrounding communities.
“Less that one year ago, we learned that Racine County would be home to Foxconn’s first major North American investment. Since that time, we’ve built a great partnership with Foxconn and demonstrated unprecedented intergovernmental cooperation as the company has strengthened its unparalleled commitment to Racine County and the State of Wisconsin. I’m proud to call Racine County the home of Foxconn,” he said.
Read more about the project: Foxconn building in Mount Pleasant.
Trump talks Foxconn and trade
Trump headlined a reception at Foxconn’s Opus facility, 13315 Globe Drive, following a quick ceremonial groundbreaking event at one of Foxconn’s nearby construction sites. Trump touted what he said were numerous economic gains for the nation since he took office 18 months ago.
While the president has said that Foxconn has said it will create 15,000 jobs, the company puts the figure at 13,000.
Referring to trade disputes with Canada, China, and members of the European Union, he said he wants to do away with he asserts are unfair trade practices and “level the playing field.”
He once again urged Harley-Davidson to not shift any motorcycle production overseas in response to retaliatory tariffs recently announced by the European Union. The president was in a light-hearted mood, likely in response to several favorable Supreme Court decisions this week and yesterday’s announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire this summer, allowing the president to appoint another conservative justice to the high court.
Other speakers included Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), whose district includes the Foxconn development.
Hundreds protest Foxconn project
Hundreds of people protested the project at Smolenski Park in Mount Pleasant, according to a story by Patch.com.
Organized by the Gaia Coalition Network, protesters about 40 organizations, attended “Operation: Shake the Ground!” at Smolenski Park several miles away.
According to the story the protesters voiced “their objections to a perceived misuse of public funds, to seizing the property rights of landowners and homeowners, to siphoning off water from Lake Michigan as well as posing other environmental threats, and to granting contracts to some of Walker’s biggest donors.”
The Village of Mount Pleasant purchased over 1,000 acres of property — mostly using the eminent domain law — to amass the property for the project. Once purchased, a Foxconn subsidiary bought the land this spring. Some of the homes were built within the last 18 months. Others had been 100-year-old farms.