Foxconn Buys Eau Claire Office Space, Partners with Advocate Aurora

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant, is making more moves in Wisconsin at it prepares to build a massive electronics factory in the southeast corner of the state.

Foxconn said on Monday that it has agreed to buy one building in downtown Eau Claire, WI, and it has purchased office space in another, with the intention of turning the spaces into technology development centers that will employ at least 150 people.

Eau Claire is a city located on the western side of the state that has a population of about 68,000. Jamf Software anchors the city’s technology sector; the company, which helps businesses set up Apple computers and mobile devices that employees use for work, is headquartered in Minneapolis, but was founded in Eau Claire and maintains a significant presence there.

Foxconn purchased a six-story office building known as The Grand, which the company said “will be updated and converted into an incubator and laboratory.” Foxconn also said it bought more than 15,000 square feet of space in a separate building two blocks away. That space will house projects related to what the company calls an “8K+5G ecosystem” that it expects to form around an enormous electronic display factory Foxconn is building in southeastern Wisconsin. (8K refers to the resolution of the screens Foxconn plans to manufacture in Wisconsin, while 5G refers to the next generation of wireless network systems.)

“Foxconn” has been on the lips of political and business leaders in Wisconsin for the past year, following the company’s announcement that it plans to invest $10 billion over three years to construct the 25 million-square-foot facility. The plant, which is being built in the village of Mount Pleasant, WI, and will produce large television and computer screens, could employ up to 13,000 people, company leaders have said.

In June, Foxconn announced it planned to expand its footprint in Wisconsin by purchasing large office buildings in the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay and renovating them to become part of the company’s “innovation center network.” The network will now also include the workspaces in Eau Claire.

Even though Foxconn has only hired a small fraction of the thousands of workers who will staff its Mount Pleasant facility after it opens, the company is already thinking about how it can provide them with health insurance and access to care that’s affordable for employees—and for Foxconn.

Late last week, Advocate Aurora Health, one of the largest healthcare providers serving patients in Wisconsin, announced a “multi-faceted collaboration” with Foxconn. The tie-up is aimed in part at lowering the healthcare costs of Foxconn’s U.S. employees by having clinicians and other staff at Advocate Aurora Health use Foxconn’s “predictive modeling” platform and artificial intelligence technology. A news release with information on the collaboration also mentions co-developing employee wellness programs.

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, the two organizations “signed a memorandum of understanding to work together,” but have not entered into a formal agreement.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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