RACINE — The city of Kenosha has withdrawn its bid to land Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, thus seemingly increasing Racine County’s chances of landing a future $10 billion liquid crystal display plant.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian wrote Gov. Scott Walker a letter dated Monday that pulled the city out of the running for a Foxconn manufacturing plant that is expected to employ as many as 13,000 people.
“Throughout this planning process, we have been consistent in our belief that without significant adjustments to specific current state laws impacting local municipalities, we would be unable to support and/or absorb the development of the project,” Antaramian wrote.
“Based upon the current status of the legislative bill which addresses the project, the City of Kenosha regrets that we will not be able to support this development in our community,” the Kenosha mayor wrote. “We wish you, the state and Foxconn all the best in finding reasonable resolutions to all of the issues surrounding this project.”
Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave issued a statement Tuesday in response to Kenosha’s withdrawal: “We remain hopeful that Foxconn will choose to call Racine County home. The impact of this investment on our community would be unprecedented and the opportunity enormous.
“We are hard at work to capitalize on that chance in a well thought-out, careful, and conservative way that makes Racine County highly desirable, while maintaining our commitment to the taxpayers of our great county.”
In his letter to Walker, Antaramian, a Democrat, expressed frustration that Kenosha’s concerns with the Foxconn incentives bill have not been adequately addressed. He said city officials had met with several state agencies as well as regional economic development officials.
“We have provided documents detailing our needs to both the Assembly and Senate throughout the committee process as well as testifying during the public hearings,” Antaramian wrote. “Unfortunately, our voice has not been heard.”
The mayor cited issues including “expenditures allowed from the (tax incremental financing district)” and other TIF issues, “uncontrolled incorporation of towns, specific funding rules regarding water utilities, impacts to the state’s levy limit law and the expenditure restraint program.”
State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, responded with a letter of his own.
“Just because your city ‘wants’ changes, does not mean they are good or acceptable ideas,” he wrote. “We have incorporated changes to the bill at the request of specific communities to provide as little disruption to local budgets and lifestyles as possible.
“It is disappointing that you have decided to turn your back on housing thousands of jobs in your city at the last minute, but that is your prerogative.”
Racine Mayor Dennis Wiser said he doesn’t share Antaramian’s concerns because Foxconn would not be located within his city.
“We’re still looking at it as an opportunity and looking at how to get ourselves ready for it,” Wiser said.
“There will be people associated with Foxconn looking for places to shop, housing, restaurants and meeting facilities, and we want to be their stop of choice for those concerns.”