Illustration by Scott Gordon and Kristian Knutsen

Series: Foxconn In Wisconsin

Wisconsin's deal with electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn has stirred up a mix of excitement and doubt. The state offered the Taiwan-based company about $3 billion in economic incentives and a waiver on a variety of environmental and other regulations to build a large LCD fabrication complex. In return, Foxconn touted the possibility of creating thousands of jobs and invigorating Wisconsin as a Midwestern tech hub. This type of manufacturing would place considerable demands on the state's natural resources, especially water, and can create significant pollution. The net effect of this deal will take years to emerge, but boosters and skeptics alike agree that a Foxconn footprint would have profound and complex implications for Wisconsin's future.
 
Fresh water is an increasingly precious necessity around the planet, and Wisconsin has better access to it than most places.
Projections about the Foxconn deal all hinge on what assumptions one makes.
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Although the state estimates the Foxconn deal will not break even until 2043, there remains concerns that Wisconsin may never get the chance to recoup its major investment into the company. Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Budget Project breaks down its analysis of the deal.
The devices that populate connected life, including flat-screen TVs and computer monitors, require dozens of materials and sophisticated chemical processes to make.
Operating an LCD screen manufacturing plant in Wisconsin would raise a number of environmental question marks.
Local governments surrounding the proposed Foxconn factory will have plenty of complex processes of their own to deal with if the company moves ahead with its plans for southeastern Wisconsin.
Foxconn is proposing to build an LCD fabrication facility in Wisconsin. Peter Adriaens of the University of Michigan explains how heavy metals used in producing electronics components pose potential dangers, as some are bioaccumulative and may remain in organisms for the rest of their lives.
As discussion over environmental impacts of Foxconn continues, proposed locations along Lake Michigan could involve the Great Lakes Compact. Scott Gordon of WisContext discusses the role that water usage plays in electronics manufacturing and the legal framework related to using Great Lakes water.
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What impact could the Foxconn deal have on local governments? Todd Berry from the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance discusses how property values and related tax revenues could be a boon to municipalities if the project is successful.
In its proposed incentives package to lure electronics manufacturer Foxconn, the Wisconsin legislature is not only offering unprecedented economic incentives, but also carves out significant exemptions to state-level environmental regulations for the company.