Alder Syed Abbas
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Abbas’ Blog
Foxconn and Oscar Mayer site
Foxconn. A company that has been in the news lately for proposing a 20 million square feet factory on about 1.56 square miles, employing from 3,000 to 13,000 employees with a $3,000,000,000 taxpayer subsidy.
More recently, it's apparent that they're interested in a different site for a smaller project. They're looking for 20 acres on a greenfield (ie: immediately developable) site in Dane County.
The City of Madison does not have any greenfield sites of this size. We do have the Oscar Mayer site. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has requested that Foxconn look at this site for this potential use.
Since Kraft-Heinz had informed us that they were closing the Oscar Mayer facility, I have repeatedly asked for a planning process so that we can get ahead of proposals for this site. As available developable land decreases in Madison, we need to ensure that each and every acre we do use is absolutely done right. A public participation process would assist in making sure this is done.
Fortunately, we have already begun the process and will soon be selecting individuals to serve on a fast-track high-level planning committee. Unfortunately, no decision or outcomes have been created.
That leads us to a conundrum: everyone I know wants to reuse the site. There are different opinions on what to do with the site, but most agree that employment would be ideal on this site.
In many ways I envisioned multiple employers, emerging business and food incubation at the site. A diversity of companies and types of business would allow the site to continue to be a community asset as companies shift and change instead of the likes of the large-scale closure of the Oscar Mayer facility.
A Foxconn assembly plant at this site would be similar to what we traditionally had on the site. It also may be no more community engaging than when Oscar Mayer was on the site.
At this point, it's too early to tell. I do have some questions (and you might have a few more) that I would need to have answers to before I can embrace this as a project:
- How serious is Foxconn is in locating in Madison/Dane County?
- How serious is Foxconn on a brownfield site?
- What would Foxconn produce here and will it adversely impact nearby neighbors?
- Will there be a request for city/state resources to redevelop the site? What will that look like?
- Will they use the entire site, or will we be able to redevelop other parts?
- Will be able to establish community linkages (bike paths, streets) through the site?
- Will the jobs be sustainable, family-supporting with benefits?
- Will the state exempt Foxconn from environmental regulations on the site?
- Will existing buildings on the site be demolished or reused?
- Will Foxconn be engaging with other community resources such as the Urban Leaugue, University of Wisconsin or even the Northside Planning Council?
I do see the appeal to Madison and Dane County to have additional manufacturing opportunities in the region and do want to see good, well-paid jobs that people can achieve with a range of skills. I understand that for Madison there are few and limited places to locate such a facility and this can be a potential "win-win".
However, without too much information – both in community desire and Foxconn's interest – I do need at least some of my questions answered before committing serious city and community resources.
What do you think? Let me know what you think by emailing me at email@example.com.
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