GURNEE, Ill. – Despite Foxconn’s failed promise to bring a bounty of blue collar factory jobs back to the Midwest, its development center that it now says will be staffed by scientists and engineers still could cause flooding and environmental issues for Racine County in Wisconsin.
Foxconn promised the creation of 13,000 jobs and in a statement said it’s still committed to doing so.
However, the company says the shift in global market was the main driver for the change in plans.
While the new jobs appear to now be geared to college graduates, Foxconn’s environmental footprint remains the same.
Michael Warner, executive director of the Lake County (Ill.) Stormwater Commission, says the commission is still moving forward with its engineering study to make sure the county’s watershed improvement projects won’t be harmed by runoff from the site.
“The design is moving forward as far as we know, so our study doesn’t look at the financial arrangements that Foxconn had with Wisconsin, nor does it look at jobs,” he states. “It’s completely about environmental impacts.”
Warner says he expects a draft of the county’s impact study will be ready by mid-February in time for a public review by the county’s March 7 commission meeting.
The company initially touted the massive 20 million-square-foot Wisconsin complex as its first North American manufacturing site for the next generation of display panels to be used in an array of products from TVs to notebooks.
Warner says the commission started to take a closer look at the Foxconn site, which is in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River Watershed, which flows down to several Lake County communities.
“We started looking at the watershed in the Des Plaines River that flows into Lake County, and we realized that the flood plain study is in need of an update both in Wisconsin and Illinois,” he states.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican who brokered the deal, pointed out in a tweet that Foxconn only earns credit with actual investments and jobs.
He said, “No jobs/investment? No credits. Period.”
Wisconsin state and local governments had promised roughly $4 billion to Foxconn, the richest incentive package in state history.