Nowadays, the use of eminent domain is commonly used for roadway purposes, such as adding lanes and/or improving the roadway overall. However, there are other uses which are purported to be ‘for the good of the people’ based upon economic promises. The project is supposed to improve the local economy, bring jobs or enhance the residents’ daily lives. This promise is not always lived up to, though, and can even bring the opposite: devastation, loss, and a bleak future. It has happened again, and this time to the Village of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.
After reading the article titled, “Foxconn Debacle is Yet Another Example of the Dangers of Using Eminent Domain to Promote Economic Development” posted on the Reason website on December 10, 2020, I was reminded of how easy it is for the government to pass legislation using this vehicle that so profoundly and immediately impacts the lives of those property owners. As long as the right people in power agree, then huge deals like this are relatively easy to pass. To sum up, the then-governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, backed by President Trump and a few other politicians, touted this project and its would-be benefits and pushed along the huge tax subsidy (to the tune of nearly four billion dollars) to get this project going.
Foxconn is a Taiwanese “electronics giant” who manufacturers items such as the iPhone and XBox. Foxconn would build a 3,000 acre hi-tech plant that would manufacture large 10.5 LCD displays (“Gen 10.5 Fab”) in a 20 million square foot facility and employ over 13,000 people. That is what was expected in 2017. Fast-forward to late 2020: only 281 full-time jobs, a structure that was recently zoned from manufacturing to storage is 1/20th the size it promised to be, and the current governor Tony Evers pulled the deal from Foxconn since they failed to deliver their benchmark promises. According to The Verge, Foxconn really did not have a detailed plan when they struck this deal, and politicians, eager to make big strides for their voters, or at least appear to be, trusted the Foxconn had a real plan. To date, there are no plans.
Let’s not forget about the property owners. Sean McFarlane went to site where his home used to sit. It is now a detention pond. The Village spared every expense to take their property too, since they placed Sean and his family in a “dilapidated vacant house with no working toilets or heat” and also allegedly failed to make the relocation payment of $22,000 to the McFarlanes. However, if you go to Mount Pleasant’s Foxconn website, it consists of three paragraphs and contact information regarding the project. If you click on Jobs (under Updates) and go to Job Postings, you will only find a recruiting email, a few fluff paragraphs, and a message from Foxconn’s former CEO, Terry Gou, who had made the deal with the former Wisconsin governor. The message speaks of their long-term strategy and vision to make Wisconsin the next Silicon Valley. There are currently no job postings. The taxpayers of Wisconsin, however, have already started paying for this doomed project.
Dzieza, Josh. “The 8th Wonder of the World.” The Verge, The Verge, 19 Oct. 2020. Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.
“Foxconn.” Foxconn | Mount Pleasant, WI – Official Website, Village of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.
Racine County Welcomes Foxconn, Racine County, Wisconsin. Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.