YORKVILLE — Racine County officials and business development leaders expressed confidence Tuesday that a big corporation will eventually invest in the developable land surrounding Foxconn in western Mount Pleasant.
They base that confidence on Mount Pleasant having been a finalist in the state-vs.-state competition to land what is expected to be the largest microchip manufacturing plant in U.S. history, even though Intel picked Ohio over Wisconsin, a decision made public in mid-January.
It is not clear what, in Intel minds, made the site northeast of Columbus, Ohio’s capital, superior to Mount Pleasant.
The site chosen is remarkably similar to the areas around Foxconn. Both sites include more than 1,000 acres; both are close to city centers, and thus have large workforces in close proximity; both have reliable water and electrical infrastructure already in place; both are on what is currently farmland.
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“We made an aggressive pitch. And we know from the feedback we got back from Intel that that pitch really resonated,” said Jim Paetsch, executive director of the Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership. The Milwaukee 7 — referring to the seven southeastern Wisconsin counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha — work in collaboration with the Racine County and Wisconsin economic development corporations in attracting new development to the area.
“There’s a lot of opinions out there about what made the difference. We don’t really know,” said Alan Marcuvitz, special development counsel to the Village of Mount Pleasant in relation to Foxconn. “We learned a great deal, and I believe that what we learned will bear fruit in the not too distant future.”
Marcuvitz continued: “When you look at where this property sits, between two major airports, along an improved major Interstate system, that has zoning in place, that has sewer, that has water, that has power: We believe it’s only a matter of time and patience and hard work to get to where we need to go.
“I’m hoping the next time we make a report, we’ll be singing hosannas instead of just giving you a news report.”
It doesn’t sound as though state government actions were at fault. Paetsch, of the Milwaukee 7, said that Gov. Tony Evers’ administration was supporting the pitch to bring Intel to Mount Pleasant, and that Evers was “deeply involved.”
Columbus vs. Mount Pleasant
Ohio’s government was certainly gung-ho to land Intel’s factory.
Republican Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted told an Ohio news station, WCMH-TV, in January: “They (Intel officials) just believed that we were going to be good partners, that Ohio wanted this. They felt that there are some places that wanted to dictate terms to them, that didn’t really appreciate what they were up against, that maybe weren’t going to be as welcoming.”
Kathleen Gallagher, executive director of the nonprofit 5 Lakes Institute, speculated in an analysis piece published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 3: “The big question: Why did Intel choose to locate its $20 billion chip-making hub in Ohio rather than the Foxconn site in southeastern Wisconsin? This much is clear: Ohio presented Intel with a great location, available land, and a high-level political willingness to build out the ecosystem with incentives … but Racine County’s K-12 education system ranks poorly, the park is in an EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) non-attainment zone, and political unrest associated with the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting and acquittal probably influenced Intel’s decision.”