Wisconsin won’t profit for years
The Washington Post
The deal President Donald Trump called “incredible” and Gov. Scott Walker hailed as “once-in-a-century” opportunity to bring the electronic manufacturing giant Foxconn to Wisconsin wouldn’t generate profits for the state until 2042, a new legislative analysis projects.
The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan agency that analyzes proposed economic investments, looked at Walker’s bid last month to bring a new flat-screen display factory to the state in exchange for a roughly $3-billion incentives package.
Foxconn said it would break ground in southeastern Wisconsin and hire 3,000 workers there over the next four years, with the “potential” to create 13,000 jobs.
If the company hits that growth target, Wisconsin would break even after 25 years, said Rob Reinhardt, a program manager who worked on the report. If 13,000 jobs never materialize, it could take decades longer.
“We kind of dig a hole for ourselves,” Reinhardt said. State officials, however, maintain the deal would bring more prosperity.
“The state of Wisconsin is investing in a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity that will be transformational as the state will become home to the only LCD manufacturing facility outside of Asia,” said Mark Maley, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. “Bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin will have an estimated annual economic impact of $7 billion that will touch every region of the state.”
That value, he added, will come from generating an estimated 13,000 direct and 22,000 indirect jobs.
Under Walker’s terms, Wisconsin, which competed with six other states to attract the business, would provide Foxconn with up to $2.85 billion in state income tax credits, which could be made in cash payments, and up to $150 million in sales tax breaks over a 15-year period.
The Fiscal Bureau’s analysis said other factors could delay the investment’s payoff.
Wisconsin has an unusually low unemployment rate (3.2 percent), which is significantly lower than the country’s 4.3 percent. Employers there already complain about having trouble finding workers.
If Foxconn fills jobs with workers from neighboring Illinois, where the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, analysts predict Wisconsin wouldn’t make money until 2045. Walker’s office did not respond to a request for comment.