Jim Hoffman said there is no inconsistency in telling reporters he is moving his construction business to Minnesota and then instead expanding operations in Wisconsin. Hoffman told the Daily Reporter, “This is strictly about a businessman following my market.”
As previously reported by RightWisconsin, Hoffman threatened to move Hoffman Construction, a unionized contractor, to Minnesota after the Republican legislature passed Right to Work in Wisconsin. “Some described our work as almost being like a migrant worker, having to cross the river to Minnesota to find work,” Hoffman told WKBT-TV in La Crosse in 2015.
But then Hoffman announced an expansion in southeastern Wisconsin after the Foxconn development was announced.
“We listen to our market, and our market is telling us there’s opportunities down there,” Hoffman told the Daily Reporter last year.
Now Hoffman Construction has been awarded a roadbuilding contract as part of the Foxconn development, suddenly life is wonderful, with Hoffman describing the Foxconn development like the coming of the auto industry.
But in an article for the Daily Reporter yesterday, Hoffman denied that there was any inconsistency in his position, even though one of the reasons Foxconn chose Wisconsin was the state’s Right to Work law.
“Back then I saw my market growing in Minnesota, not in Wisconsin,” Hoffman told the Daily Reporter. “And when it comes to work coming into place at Foxconn, yeah, we are going to follow our market.”
Hoffman even questioned whether the Right to Work law played a role in bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin.
“I really don’t know if it was right to work, or our location near so much water or our workforce,” he said.
However, Jim Paetsch, vice president for corporate relocation, expansion and attraction at the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development partnership recently told BizTimes.com that Right to Work did play a role in bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin. BizTimes.com also reported:
Foxconn’s contract with the state, which sets up $3 billion in incentives in exchange for a $10 billion investment and 13,000 jobs, includes language that exempts the company from default in the event of an unlawful work stoppage or strike. The language isn’t in other Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. contracts and spokesman Mark Maley said it was part of negotiations.
And as the MacIver Institute pointed out, Right to Work was a competitive advantage for Wisconsin over Illinois:
Wisconsin was completing with six other states for the Foxconn factory: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Foxconn is a non-union company, which potentially gave Michigan, Indiana, Texas and Wisconsin an advantage since they all have right-to-work laws.
Despite a booming construction industry, Hoffman is still opposed to the structural reforms of Wisconsin’s economy when it comes to unions. According to the Daily Reporter:
Wisconsin’s right-to-work law is not the only state policy that Hoffman has opposed in recent years. He was also against Republican lawmakers’ decision to repeal Wisconsin’s long-standing prevailing-wage laws and has argued that recent budgets have not put enough money toward highway rehabilitation and expansion projects.
At the same time, Hoffman has said that he generally considers himself a Republican.
Apparently, a Wisconsin Republican who is no longer threatening to move his business to Minnesota.