Walworth County resident Paul Murphy hopes to learn more about how his small company might become a vendor for Foxconn’s $10 billion science and technology park in Mount Pleasant.

Murphy drove an hour from Genoa City to Blackhawk Technical College on Monday to attend one of the networking junkets the Foxconn construction managers have been holding to hunt for vendors, suppliers and subcontractors, all of whom hope to win a piece of the work on the Taiwanese company’s 20 million-square-foot liquid-crystal screen television manufacturing complex.

Murphy runs A&P Fire Safety, a small fire extinguisher service and sales company with his wife, Angel Murphy. He represented one of about 100 businesses at Monday’s meeting at the technical college.

“We were joking, but not really, when we looked and figured out that with a 20 million-square-foot complex, they’d need about 3,300 fire extinguishers,” Murphy said. “I’m trying to learn more about this. I’m assuming on the economic push from the state they’ve got, they’ll probably be pushing all kinds of parts of this project to small, local businesses.”

Gilbane-M+W Group, the Milwaukee firm Foxconn picked as the lead construction management group on the project, is pressing statewide to create a pipeline for companies to bid on jobs for a project that’s Wisconsin’s biggest by far.

Foxconn has promised to spend about $1.4 billion on Wisconsin suppliers, and it estimates the construction of the Mount Pleasant plant could generate 10,000 construction jobs over four to six years.

Earth work and foundation work alone will span the next year or so of the project’s timeline, and bids for that work will roll out soon.

On Monday, Gilbane-M+W and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. explained a contractor registration process that will allow companies to vie for work.

Gilbane Vice President Deb Pereira and M+W Group Vice President Allen Ware said the plant’s construction will need to draw from “hundreds” of support firms, most of which will come from Wisconsin, the companies hope.

As of Monday, no contracts had been awarded for support and supply work, the project managers said. In coming months, the state will post announcements for bids on the project work through its Foxconn-centered “WisconnValley” website, Pereira and Ware said.

They urged those at Monday’s meeting to register through the WisconnValley site, which would funnel them into a database for consideration.

The companies then will go through a “nine-step procurement process” that Gilbane-M+W will use to vet them before Foxconn makes final decisions, Pereira indicated.

The state, which provided landmark incentive packages for the project, is partnering with Foxconn to run a bid-qualification process that could ensure as much as 60 percent of businesses involved in the project are from Wisconsin, officials said.

Pereira said in the last six months, the WisconnValley site has gathered about 600 firms interested in landing work on the project, and about 900 firms so far have attended junkets Gilbane has held in the last few weeks.

Ware said the plant’s later stages of development will include utility, chemical and water treatment buildings that are so big they’ll be divided into “quadrants,” with work awarded to three or four mechanical contractors at once.

Contracts, Ware said, could range from $10,000 to $300 million.

In order to be eligible to bid on work or supply various parts of the project, companies are encouraged to register through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Preference will be given to companies that have been based in Wisconsin for at least one year, officials said.

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