October 19, 2021

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Some wonder if Racine Co. had a chance after losing Foxconn’s electric car plant

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. — Mount Pleasant has lost out on an electric car manufacturing plant to the area’s Foxconn facility. The Racine County campus was was originally supposed to build LCD panels for TVs. But now with the electric vehicle option off the table, elected leaders are not sure what could come next.

“I met with the officials from Fisker, they were here and I know they were serious,” said Republican State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. “Wisconsin can’t win every single one even, though I think we have one of the best workforces and best development sites. They need to make the decision that is right for their company.”

Foxconn listened to a pitch from Wisconsin on why it should bring Fisker, the electric car automaker, to the Racine County campus it already owns. Instead the company went to Lordstown, Ohio and is set to purchase a manufacturing plant already there.

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Democrat and House Minority Leader Gordon Hintz says he doesn’t think Fisker was ever going to come to Wisconsin when the Ohio option was on the table.

“It was unclear how serious that deal was, especially given how many things have fallen through. They usually mentioned that they were out there. I think the reality is there’s an existing auto production facility in Ohio,” said Hintz.

Wisconsin also currently has a law in place that does not allow car manufacturers to sell directly to a consumer, which is how Fisker and other electric car makers like Tesla sell their vehicles. Instead, Wisconsin says you have to buy through a dealer. Republican State Senator Dale Kooyenga proposed a bill that is trying to change that. But he believes it didn’t help Wisconsin bring in Fisker.

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Fisker’s electric vehicle

“Bottom line is why would you move your manufacturing to a state where you can’t sell your product. It’s ridiculous,” said Kooyenga.

As it stands now, Foxconn is currently paying $5 million a year in property taxes, and that is set to increase to $30 million in 2023 until 2047. A spokesperson for Mount Pleasant and Racine County said they already spent $307 million by the end of 2020.

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“My hope is that they will continue to look at the Foxconn site,” said Speaker Vos. “I mean we know there is almost 1,000 people working there now. The company is up and running, there are good things that are happening there. It is one of the best development sites in the entire country, so there is no doubt in my mind the investment will take off. It will just take a little longer.”

“My criticism of Foxconn would be mostly, you know at this point, they should be, you know, their credibility is damaged, and they should be more straightforward with people to manage expectations. Obviously the new contract terms are significantly more in line with what a realistic plan might be,” said Hintz.

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