Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company, has denied reports that it plans to suspend work on its $10 billion manufacturing plant in Wisconsin after explosive news reports broke earlier this week.
The campus, designed to manufacture advanced liquid-crystal-display panels, was heralded in 2017 by former Governor Scott Walker and President Donald Trump as a massive boost to the manufacturing industry.
In an interview with Reuters, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, cited high costs and a lacking market for screens in the United States as reason for rethinking the factory.
Woo suggested Foxconn was planning on utilizing the Wisconsin space mainly for research facilities and packaging and assembly operations
With initial hiring set at 3,000, and projected to grow to 13,000 over time, the original factory had been welcomed and watched with suspicion.
Amid protests, Foxconn deal finalized in closed session meetingThe Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation approved a contract Wednesday subsidizing $3 billion to Taiwanese technology company Foxconn. According to the Read…
State expenditure on the private project was an initial major concern. According to Market Watch, groundbreaking for the complex was to be supported by $4.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies, including $3 billion from the state with the rest coming from municipalities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the state was additionally responsible for 40 percent of the public bonds that financed local expenses if the project fell short.
Environmental concerns also played a role. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources would allow the company to divert Lake Michigan water for its use. Estimates put the daily water usage at 7 million gallons of water per day.
Marquette Law polls from July 2018 found 46 percent of respondents believed Wisconsin was paying more than the Foxconn plant was worth. An additional 14 percent said they did not know if it was worth the cost.
Economic analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau predicted the earliest Wisconsin taxpayers would see a return on the investment in 2042, according to The New Yorker.
During the fall gubernatorial campaign, Wisconsin Democrats cited the project as evidence of Republican disregard for taxpayers and a singular focus on business. Republicans cited the project as a measure to re-establish Wisconsin’s strength as a manufacturing stronghold.
Some Republicans have tried to shift the blame onto Gov. Tony Evers, who was elected after the deal had been established.
“It’s … not surprising Foxconn would rethink building a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin under the Evers Administration,” Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in a statement online. “Governor Evers has an anti-jobs agenda.”
Evers, however, had indicated he would not block the project, and Foxconn executives said meetings with his administration had been constructive.
Local officials indicated that Foxconn had built property in Wisconsin already and invested $200 million in the state.
In August, Foxconn “gifted” $100 million to University of Wisconsin, earmarking it for engineering and innovation.
However, Foxconn’s prior failings have been brought to public attention following the recent announcements. The company had laid out plans in Brazil for projects totaling 100,000 jobs. The plan did not fully materialize.
In light of this week’s news reports and as the Evers Administration establishes itself, experts and state officials are keeping a close watch on any developments with the Foxconn plant.