Residents and business owners in Southeastern Wisconsin, and specifically Racine/Kenosha communities, are well aware of the recent burst of economic development in our region. Amazon. Uline. Ikea. And, Foxconn Technology Group—the largest project by far.
The potential, and the statistics, for the massive Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant are dizzying. The state of Wisconsin and local municipalities offered more than $3 billion in incentives. Various impact studies estimate that Foxconn's $10 billion investment over 15 years has the potential for 13,000 direct jobs with average annual total compensation of $53,000; perhaps 35,000 total jobs when considering related impact; more than $100 million per year in state and local taxes; and an average of $3.4 billion in additional gross domestic product.
But that's the big picture. What does Foxconn's entry to the Wisconsin landscape mean for local businesses, for your business? Perhaps more than you would think.
Here are some scenarios to consider.
How many of those new jobs will go to outsiders as opposed to workers who currently live in the Racine area? If you want local residents to land those new jobs, it will be important to make sure potential employees have the education, skills and training needed to qualify. As a business owner, you'll also want to focus on retaining your valued employees, not only to maintain your operation, but to be in position to grow as the local economy—and resulting opportunities—expand. Many companies skimp on training and development because of the cost, but with unemployment already at historic lows, you'll need to invest in your employees to remain competitive.
Area educational institutions, such as the University of Wisconsin‐Parkside, Gateway Technical College and Carthage College are poised for the coming demand. They are ready to help businesses attract top talent as well as ramp up training for current employees seeking additional skills suited to evolving technology. Business owners also can reach out to area high schools that offer classes for students interested in technical training that can lead to apprenticeships or other job programs.
Businesses that have an expansion plan in place will be ahead of the game as Foxconn and other economic development takes shape. It will be critical to scale your business accordingly. Expansion—hiring additional employees, enlarging your office or manufacturing space and providing training or additional benefits for your employees—is expensive. Managing your cash flow and rate of growth is critical to success over time. Foxconn is projected to build out over 15 years; your growth should be measured as well.
Massive economic development, even when managed over time, has significant impact on all aspects of community life. It provides tremendous opportunities such as jobs, new businesses and higher wages but has the potential to strain community resources. Our area will need more housing, but what type? Millennials, those most likely to be attracted to and qualified for many of the new jobs, tend to prefer renting to buying a home. They want to live downtown rather than in the suburbs. They value working remotely, on varied schedules, if their jobs permit. And they like to eat out or order takeout rather than stay in and cook. In many ways, they are vastly different from their Baby Boomer and Gen X colleagues. Millennials' impact on future growth will be vast as well.
In short, your community is changing significantly with Foxconn in the picture, and that will affect housing, retail, entertainment, manufacturing and virtually every other area business, including your own. Join the conversation, voice your opinion, and tap into the knowledge and expertise of your trusted partners—your banker, your attorney, your CPA.
Those partners can help you, your neighbors and your business community get to know Foxconn and how it can contribute to the local economy. They will stand with you as you help shape your business's future as well as that of the surrounding community.