By M.D. Kittle
[Madison, Wis...] - We're ready.
That was the unified message of dozens of public and private-sector officials - from Kenosha to Wausau - in testimony Thursday before the Assembly committee leading legislation on a $3 billion state incentives package for the "once-in-a-century" Foxconn Technology Group economic development proposal.
"Ladies and gentlemen, close this deal. Make it happen," urged Tom Christensen, administrator of the Racine County village of Caledonia, which could directly benefit from Foxconn's plan to build a $10 billion liquid crystal display manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin.
Waves of supporters testifed before the Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy during an all-day hearing that spanned deep into Thursday night.
There were critics to be sure, including the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and a "cannabis activist" who urged the committee to ditch Foxconn and subsidize the pot industry instead.
But the vast majority of those who testified laid out myriad reasons why they believe Foxconn would transform Wisconsin's economy and why the state must act quickly to make it happen.
"The time to worry about Foxconn leaving is now," said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. "If this process takes too long, now is when they will leave. They will not leave after they've invested $10 billion."
The economic impact figures command attention.
Secretary of Administration Scott Neitzel testified about the 10,000 construction workers who would be employed over the next four years, with an estimated $5.7 billion spent on construction over the period and an annual $1.4 billion spent in the supply chain. Neitzel also talked about the intangible human factors - personal connections formed during the negotiation process - that helped make the deal possible.