Two key players in the effort to bring the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn to Wisconsin are now making their case to the state through digital advertising campaigns.
Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker are set to launch advertising efforts on Tuesday promoting the Foxconn deal, which would bring the country's first LCD manufacturing facility to southeastern Wisconsin.
If legislation is approved by the state Legislature by the end of September, Wisconsin's economic development agency will offer up to $3 billion in tax incentives to Foxconn, which has promised to invest $10 billion in the plant, likely to be built in Racine or Kenosha County.
The manufacturing campus, expected to measure 20 million square feet, is projected to employ between 3,000 and 13,000 people at an average annual salary of $53,875.
Ryan, who is from Janesville and represents the area where the facility is anticipated to be located, applauded Walker as the deal was announced for "quarterbacking" the effort. He told reporters in Wisconsin earlier this month that he had met with Foxconn representatives at Walker's request, but the governor would take the lead.
President Donald Trump and White House officials cited both men as influential in securing the deal.
The team effort was "coordinated and effective," and proves that having a Speaker of the House who hails from Wisconsin offers the state a "formidable advantage," said a Ryan aide.
Ryan "connected the dots to help shepherd this process across the finish line," the aide said.
"Paul has always focused on solving problems — on being an effective leader who gets things done. In Wisconsin, you are judged on results — if you are actually improving people's lives," said Kevin Seifert, Ryan's top political adviser. "Well, this Foxconn announcement is a big win for Wisconsinites because it will bring good-paying jobs to our state and I can tell you this — it makes Paul so proud to advocate for the state and people he loves."
Ryan's campaign will launch a digital campaign on Tuesday that targets specific people, then drives "re-marketing" efforts to them after making contact. For instance, if someone visits Ryan's campaign website after seeing it advertised in Google results, then visits another website that uses Google-based ads, the ad will display.
Clicking on the ad will take people to an email sign-up page and a video in which Ryan touts southern Wisconsin as a region whose stock is rising.
"We're in the center of the country. We are the perfect place to distribute throughout America. Our workforce is phenomenal," Ryan says in the video. "What this Foxconn announcement showcases is the fact that southern Wisconsin can become the epicenter for high-tech manufacturing."
Ryan faces potential challenges from Caledonia iron worker Randy Bryce and Janesville school board member Cathy Myers.
Bryce said the Foxconn announcement is "good news for Wisconsin workers who stand to gain jobs if the final deal indeed delivers what has been promised."
"But that single announcement doesn't make up for more than 20 years of bad economics — like unfair trade deals and huge tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations — that have bled southeast Wisconsin's economy dry," Bryce said, arguing the state needs a comprehensive economic strategy that will help "all of the working people who have been left behind over the past two decades — not just the lucky few who may benefit from this one-off deal made possible with huge corporate tax breaks."
Myers tweeted last week: "1,000s of good jobs coming to #WI01 is welcome relief for ppl. Let's organize to ensure taxpayer subsidies incl real community benefits!"
Ryan's advertising push comes along with a similar effort from Walker's campaign.
The ads will target people based on demographics, locations and search history, and will link to an email sign-up form and a list of facts, figures and arguments supporting the Foxconn deal and Walker's efforts.
"Foxconn’s investment is a once-in-a-century opportunity to transform Wisconsin’s economy, and an example of Gov. Walker delivering results for hardworking Wisconsin families," said campaign manager Joe Fadness. "The governor’s bold conservative reforms have Wisconsin headed in the right direction, and we want Wisconsinites to hear that message and see what a bright future our state has under Gov. Walker’s continued leadership."
Walker has not officially launched a campaign, but is expected to seek re-election for a third term in 2018.
Reactions to the proposal from Republican lawmakers have been overwhelmingly positive. Some Democrats have come out against it, while others have offered responses ranging from skepticism to cautious optimism.
Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, a Democrat who announced his candidacy for governor earlier this month, told the Associated Press the deal is a good thing for the state and "should not be a partisan issue."
State Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, who is also expected to mount a campaign, said he looks forward to making sure the "exciting news translates to those real, good paying jobs for Wisconsin families that Foxconn is promising."
The Legislature is expected to hold hearings and votes soon on the bill outlining the incentives the state will offer Foxconn. Beyond the tax credits being proposed, the legislation would waive a variety of environmental regulations and would allow the state to borrow $252 million, contingent on federal funding, to complete the construction of Interstate 94, which runs from Milwaukee to the Illinois border.