A new, online supply chain portal is expected to help the state meet the needs of Foxconn and other Wisconsin businesses.

The governor on Tuesday touted the planned 20-million-square-foot manufacturing facility that is expected to break ground this year and be completed in 2020. Construction of the Taiwanese electronic manufacturer’s new plant in Southeast Wisconsin is expected to cost $10 billion dollars, and Walker is hoping the state’s construction businesses will be able to provide more than half that work.

Walker highlighted a new supply chain marketplace website that allows suppliers and buyers to connect during his remarks at an informational session Tuesday at the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce. The portal is supported by funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and will have a special section devoted to connecting suppliers with the electronics manufacturing giant.

“Foxconn is not only good for southeast Wisconsin,” Walker told a room full of local higher education and business officials. “It will have a ripple effect on other key areas.”

La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Markussen said her organization is excited about the new portal. A number of chamber members, especially those in the construction industry, are interested in being involved with the Foxconn project, and she said more than two-thirds of the businesses the Chamber has surveyed has been supportive of the work to bring the plant to the state.

“Businesses are always looking for good vendors,” she said. “A website like this helps make these connections and conversations easier.”

The new portal, live for about a week at wisupplychainmarketplace.com, allows businesses to upload information about their companies and products and services they provide or need. Other businesses can browse the information and connect with each other to fill those needs.

This will help the state become more competitive and efficient in meeting business needs, Walker said, as well as help Wisconsin gear up for the massive demands of the new Foxconn facility. Along with constructing the facility, the state will need to have an educational and workforce pipeline in place, as well as the infrastructure needed for the company to be successful, Walker said.

“I’m not worried about them hitting their marks,” Walker said. “I’m concerned about us hitting ours.”

The proposed Foxconn facility will manufacture electronic screens, panels and displays, including new 8K ultra-high-definition technology that allows the display of images at resolutions of 7680 by 4320 pixels, compared with traditional high-definition, which maxes out at 1920 by 1080. In order to receive the more than $3 billion in incentives the state is offering the company, Walker said, Foxconn will have to create jobs with an average salary of more than $53,000 plus benefits, which he said are good, family-supporting careers.

And it will have ripple effects across a number of sectors. Highlighting the high-resolution technology and other products Foxconn produces, both Walker and Markussen spoke about applications in education and healthcare that 8K technology would allow institutions such as the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and others pursue.

Responding to comments and questions from attendees in the audience, Walker compared the Foxconn facility to major car companies choosing to build plants in Detroit at the turn of the 20th century. Linking the Foxconn deal to his entire six-year administration, Walker boasted that all of the things he and his staff have done to make the state business-ready and reform government have led to Wisconsin being ready for a project like this.

“This is transformational,” he said. “It will change the state and region.”

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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