The Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care convened this week for the first time. Co-chaired by Representative Pat Snyder (R-Schofield) and Representative Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), our bipartisan group received a series of excellent briefings from Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families; the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families; the Wisconsin Counties Association (and several county-level experts); the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board; Children's Hospital of Wisconsin; and Lutheran Social Services. There are some fantastic efforts underway already in our state among state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and others, but I think we're already on our way to discovering some ways we can be more effective. We began a great dialogue this week, and I'm looking forward to traveling with the task force around the state soon to learn more about what can be done to help.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on what looks to be a beautiful weekend ahead!
Great News for "Wisconn"sin!
Wisconsin made national and international news this week when electronics giant Foxconn announced that it chose our state as the place to build its first U.S. manufacturing campus. Foxconn is best known as the assembler of Apple's iPhones; the Wisconsin facility will be the first liquid crystal display (LCD) manufacturing facility in the world that is not located in Asia.
It's hard to overstate how important this news is for Wisconsin's future. The new Foxconn facility itself will dwarf almost all other manufacturing sites in the world; it will be five times bigger than the Boeing aircraft factory. Foxconn will purchase more than $4 billion worth of supplier goods and materials every year, about one-third of which will be sourced from within Wisconsin, and the company will have a $7 billion economic impact on our state every year. The $10 billion construction project alone ($5.7 billion of which will be for construction and equipment sourced from Wisconsin businesses) will generate $348 million in state and local tax revenue; the company will generate another $181 million in state and local tax revenues every year. The average wage of a Foxconn employee will be nearly $54,000 plus benefits. Construction and hiring are set to begin immediately; the company plans to be operational in Wisconsin by 2020.
My legislative colleagues and I will be asked soon to authorize a package of financial incentives for Foxconn as part of the deal. The incentives are capped at $3 billion over 15 years (about $200 million per year). Significantly, all taxpayer-funded incentives are tied directly to Foxconn following through with its promises for job creation and capital investment. If they don't deliver, we won't pay. If they move to another state, they pay us back. But frankly, I don't think Foxconn is going to renege on our agreement; they are investing a lot more money and resources in Wisconsin than we are in them. Governor Scott Walker signed the official memorandum of understanding with Foxconn yesterday, which you may read in its entirety here.
Foxconn CEO Terry Gou says that he picked Wisconsin as the right place to invest for many reasons. Foxconn has current and potential business partners who are already here, such as GE Healthcare, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls and Harley-Davidson. We're in the central United States, near Milwaukee's and Chicago's global transportation hubs. We have strong transportation infrastructure, including good road and rail networks. We have a strong university and technical college system that will support the company's needs into the future. We have access to Lake Michigan's fresh water (which Foxconn will use, clean and reuse to make high-quality glass panels), reliable energy and other raw resources. And we have a very strong manufacturing tradition here that is only going to grow stronger with investments such as this one.
Couldn't have said it better myself, Mr. Gou. Welcome to Wisconsin; we're open for business!
New "Fast Forward" Grants Available
Effective July 1, Wisconsin's "Fast Forward" worker training grant program has moved to an ongoing application process. Rather than having to wait until a new grant award cycle begins, eligible employers are now able to apply for Fast Forward grants at any time, as needs arise. Grant application resources, program details and even management resources for businesses who have received grant awards are all available here.
If you aren't familiar with the Fast Forward grant program, it has proved to be a very effective tool over the past several years for training new employees to fill the jobs that Wisconsin's employers actually need to fill. Employers and workforce partners (school districts, for example) are encouraged to apply for funding assistance for short- to medium-term worker training projects that (1) fill ongoing skill requirements of the employer and (2) place new workers in long-term positions with opportunities for advancement. Small businesses can qualify for $2 in matching funds for every $1 of their own, up to $50,000; all businesses can qualify for up to $400,000 at a $1/$1 match. Since the program began in 2013, more than $20 million in Fast Forward funding has supported more than 200 worker training projects across the state, benefiting hundreds of businesses and thousands of workers.