Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn has selected the Village of Mount Pleasant, in Racine County, WI, as the site for a $10 billion, 20 million-square foot flat-panel display factory, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The company has 90% of the 2,900 acres needed for the factory, construction staging and future growth under contract. The factory will take up 1,200 acres and could employ up to 13,000 people when complete.
However, area homeowners are pushing back on the project and the prospect of having to relocate to make way for the plant. The company has offered to pay a premium of $50,000 per acre for some tracts of agricultural land.
When big business comes to town, locals face significant ramifications.
While Racine County residents are prepping for the inevitable disruption Foxconn's investment will bring, other cities are vying — and bracing — for the potential that their bid for a new Amazon headquarters will be selected. As cities ready their proposals for the project and the anticipated incentive and benefit packages that would come with it, others have cautioned that an investment of such magnitude isn't without its drawbacks.
Such projects are known to bring an influx of high-paid tech workers and, with them, more demand for housing. That migration can strain existing housing stock, triggering an increase in home prices that pushes out lower- and middle-income households that can no longer afford to remain in the area. Transportation systems, too, can become strained, as many are unable to sufficiently recalibrate to a rapidly growing population.
To offset some of the potential stresses put on cities when tech giants and major retailers come to town, many states and municipalities insist on benefits being a two-way street. Iowa and the city of Waukee are welcoming Apple and its $1.3 billion data center with $208 million in tax breaks, so long as Apple donates $100 million to a local economic development fund.
Waukee's recent growth has left it unable to keep pace with necessary infrastructure improvements. Officials hope Apple's direct investment, plus additional development spurred by the data center project, will fund the necessary upgrades.
Menlo Park, CA, negotiated a substantially more impressive benefits deal with Facebook in exchange for allowing the company to expand its headquarters there. The city approved zoning and height requirements for the 1.1 million-square-foot addition contingent on the social media company providing a host of community benefits, including $430,000 in rent subsidies for community workers like teachers and police officers, $6.3 million for affordable housing and $1 million in scholarships for local students.