Monday, April 13, 2020

Keeping tabs on Foxconn Place Chippewa Valley in Eau Claire

Photo creditHaymarket Landing

Photo credit:  The Verge

(emphasis added throughout)

Foxconn's buildings in Wisconsin are still empty, one year later.  (The Verge, 4/13/2020)
“I can assure you it will not be empty and they’re not empty right now,” he added. 
“They’re not empty right now” was a curious way to describe buildings that looked like this in April 2019: 
Yeung made those comments on April 12th, 2019. It is now April 12th, 2020, making it exactly one year since Foxconn promised a statement or correction regarding The Verge’s report of empty buildings in Wisconsin. That statement or correction has never arrived. 
And the buildings are still empty. 
Foxconn promised Wisconsin 'innovation centers', but hasn't yet delivered.  (NPR, 1/13/2020)
Over the next several months that Foxconn bonus included establishing innovation centers in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Racine and Madison. 
Foxconn bought buildings in the cities' downtowns, promising to employ hundreds of workers at each site. The company said it would recruit from nearby colleges. 
Two years later, nothing has opened. And none of the 1,200 jobs have been filled.
Foxconn puts Eau Claire innovation center plans on hold.  (WQOW, 10/23/2019)

Foxconn at two years: Factory being built, innovation centers unfilled, pledge to UW not yet met.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/26/2019)
No permits have been sought for work on buildings Foxconn bought in Green Bay and at 1 Main Street in Racine, though the firm said last fall that its goal was to occupy them as early as within a few months. Nor did Foxconn buy a six-story Eau Claire building that it said last July it had entered into a “definitive agreement” to purchase.

Foxconn's innovation center in Eau Claire sees little progress.  (Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, 6/8/2019; subscription required)
Local officials said last week they have heard little from Foxconn about the status of the Eau Claire innovation center, but they assume the project will proceed eventually. 
“We’re still working on the assumption that they are going to do the expansion as originally planned,” said Aaron White, economic development manager for the city of Eau Claire. 
White and City Manager Dale Peters met with four members of the Foxconn team a few weeks ago for an update. 
“They didn’t have a specific timeline they could provide, but they also didn’t give any indication that the project wasn’t going to move forward,” White said, noting that Foxconn didn’t receive any incentives from the city for the project.

“We’re very much in the same position. It would be a great project once it comes together, but we have a lot of projects we are working on so we will work with them as they need us to,” said White. “We didn’t get involved in any type of incentives, local incentives or anything like that, so we’re not under any type of rush or timeline to get things accomplished. It’s a matter about supporting them with however they choose to proceed.”

Public records show that a renovation permit has been taken out for the space, but multiple sources involved with the innovation center process say no one working on the project has a contract, and no one has been paid. 
I walked to the second building in Foxconn’s technology hub, down a street lined with lampposts mounted with speakers playing smooth jazz. At first, the six-story former bank seemed to be farther along. A yellow debris chute snaked out from a top window, and there were hardhats visible in the foyer in front of heavy circular vault doors. But there was also a sign in the window that said the building was for lease. I called the number and asked whether Foxconn was renovating the building, as it announced it would last summer. No, the person on the other end told me. The building never sold.

Keeping tabs on Foxconn Place in
Green Bay

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