Ready to roll

New North’s Supply Chain Marketplace gears up to connect suppliers to proposed Foxconn plant

Posted on Sep 1, 2017 :: Up Front
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

The benefits of the Foxconn plant proposed for southeast Wisconsin could extend throughout the state, and New North Inc. wants companies to know about a tool that allows them to spread the word about their capabilities.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing services provider, announced plans to invest $10 billion by 2020 to build a manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin. As part of an incentive package, the company could receive up to $3 billion in refundable tax credits. The plant would bring 3,000 jobs initially and could eventually employ 13,000.

Connie Loden, senior project manager at New North Inc., says the region boasts a strong supplier network and manufacturing base. All of this means it’s well positioned to serve Foxconn’s operations.

“A development of that size is certainly going to have an effect on suppliers throughout the state,” Loden says. “We’re poised to respond to
that with a directory that’s been established to organize suppliers.”

The Supply Chain Marketplace, an online sourcing tool launched by New North Inc. as an outgrowth of Wisconsin Wind Works, is in the process of expanding statewide thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The SCM allows companies to create their own free profiles, indicating any sectors they can serve.

“The timing of the Foxconn announcement comes on the heels of our statewide expansion of the Supply Chain Marketplace earlier this year,” Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, said in a press release. “We believe that this sourcing tool will be an excellent vehicle to make referrals once Foxconn finalizes its shopping list of needed services and materials.”

While Loden says the proposed Foxconn development is in the early stages and it’s not yet clear what the company would seek in terms of suppliers, businesses can still get a jump on boosting their profiles.

Companies interested in promoting their supply chain capabilities to Foxconn can create a profile, particularly in that company’s directory aggregate. If they already have a profile, they can update it to include Foxconn, Loden says, noting that New North has already seen companies begin to populate this area.

“We look at this as a current way to start to address what they may need,” Loden says. “It gives you a very quick response to an announcement like this.”

The SCM launched in September of 2015, and as of April 2017, it had attracted 370 participants. The tool already features regionally aggregated directories, and Loden anticipates it will eventually include 1,000 companies. New North is leading the charge in educating other regions of the state about the SCM.

“We look to be fairly well built out to statewide by the end of the year,” Loden says.

The tool is easy for companies to search and filter, Loden says, allowing users to enter broad or narrow terms. It also lets companies post requests for proposal or quotes and events. Loden encourages companies to sign up to receive the organization’s SCM newsletter.

Regional companies have already found success with the tool. Manitowoc’s Leede Research Group responded to a request for proposal the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center had posted seeking assistance with brand development. The company won the contract and partnered with a Madison marketing-public relations firm to supply services.

“It keeps us informed on what’s going on in the region,” Dean Halverson, Leede’s CEO, says of the tool.

Halverson continues to use the SCM and says he regularly monitors notifications of potential matches he receives via email through New North’s system. With the Foxconn deal potentially coming to fruition, he says he’ll continue to watch for opportunities his company might be able to address.

That’s exactly the vision for the SCM. “It’s such a useful tool for putting all our suppliers in a prominent position,” Loden says.