Foxconn may not build Wisconsin factory

Posted by of Insight Publications

A top Foxconn Technology Group executive says the company is reconsidering its plans about making LCD screens at a plant in Wisconsin, according to Reuters.

The news agency spoke with Louis Woo, a special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, who said the company may not build LCD screens in the United States due to cost considerations. The company could make the screens cheaper elsewhere and assemble them in Mexico before bringing them to the United States for packaging, he was quoted as saying.

Talking with Reuters, Woo said the company would not build a factory in Wisconsin, but is considering other options for the site. He added the number of overall jobs would decrease and that instead of hiring manufacturing workers it will instead focus on hiring employees with research and development skills.

By midday Wednesday, Foxconn issued a statement calling the Reuters report misleading and that Woo was quoted out of context. The statement said the company was still committed to a project in Wisconsin.

In 2017, Foxconn announced plans to build a $10 billion facility in Racine County that would employ 13,000 people. As part of the tax incentives offered to the company by Wisconsin, Foxconn needs to meet different hiring goals. The Taiwanese company also announced plans to open tech innovation centers in Green Bay, Eau Claire and Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), which administers the state’s contract with Foxconn, issued a statement Wednesday saying the contract provides flexibility to the company while protecting Wisconsin taxpayers.

“Over the past 45 years, Foxconn’s success has been based on the company’s ability to foresee and adapt to technological advancements,” the WEDC said. “Foxconn’s long-term success both globally and within Wisconsin is centered around the alignment of its business model with ever-changing global economic conditions, including evolving customer demands.”

Foxconn said earlier this month that its hiring in Wisconsin is going slowly. While it originally promised to create 13,000 jobs, it has fallen already short of initial targets. For example, Foxconn promised to create 280 jobs in Wisconsin, but only hired 178, making it ineligible for tax credits. It also downsized its plan to hire 5,200 by the end of 2020 to approximately 1,000.

Last June, Foxconn announced plans to create a technology innovation center in Green Bay that would hire 200 workers and open by the end of the year. The facility is still under development.

After Woo’s interview was published, Foxconn said in a statement it still plans to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin but did not include anything about investing up to $10 billion in a Racine County manufacturing and research complex.

In return for Foxconn’s promises in 2017 to spend up to $10 billion on the facility and hire 13,000 workers in Wisconsin, state and local governments promised public subsidies totaling $4 billion.