Foxconn Still Trying To Tap Dance Around Its Ever-Shrinking Wisconsin Promises

from the words-are-but-wind dept

If you hadn't noticed by now, Trump and Paul Ryan's once-heralded Foxconn factory deal in Wisconsin quickly devolved into farce. The state originally promised Taiwan-based Foxconn a $3 billion state subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that created 13,000 jobs. But as the subsidy grew to $4.5 billion the promised factory began to shrink further and further, to the point where nobody at this point is certain that anything meaningful is going to get built at all.

Reports last fall detailed the ever-shrinking nature of the deal, highlighting how Foxconn was using nonsense to justify its failure to follow through, showing that while the company hadn't built much of anything meaningful in the state, it was still routinely promising to deploy a "AI 8K+5G ecosystem" in the state to somehow make everything better. Those empty buzzwords were accompanied by the promise of fully staffed "innovation centers" around the state.

Back in March, reporters visited many of these innovation centers scattered around Wisconsin and found them to be largely empty. Apparently not liking the bad press, Foxconn executives like Alan Yeung attempted to claim that these centers were in fact not empty and that the reports contained “a lot of inaccuracies." But according to locals in the state these supposed innovation centers are, you'll perhaps be shocked to learn, still empty:

"One month after Yeung’s comments and promise of a correction, every innovation center in Wisconsin is still empty, according to public documents and sources involved with the innovation center process. Foxconn has yet to purchase the Madison building Yeung announced, according to Madison property records. No renovation or occupancy permits have been taken out for Foxconn’s Racine innovation center, though a permit has been taken out for work on the roof of another property Foxconn bought for “smart city” initiatives. There has been no activity in Foxconn’s Green Bay building, either."

So what are Wisconsin residents getting for their whopping $4.5 billion in taxpayer-fueled subsidies? It's still not clear. There are thoughts that the state may see some kind of factory, but it's going to be a far cry from what was originally promised, and there are still questions about whether the state will see even a fraction of the jobs that were originally promised:

"Even if Foxconn does build an LCD facility, many questions remain. The company’s current plan is to build a far smaller factory than it initially promised, one that will employ 1,500 people rather than over 10,000. The shortfall leaves both Foxconn and the state in a tricky position. Given the slower pace of hiring, it may be difficult for Foxconn to reach the hiring quotas needed to receive state subsidies. State and local governments, meanwhile, have been building infrastructure and acquiring land based on the original, far more ambitious plan.

Foxconn still seems to be claiming it will be hiring 13,000 workers in the state, but it's getting harder and harder to find anybody who actually believes them.

Filed Under: boondoggle, donald trump, paul ryan, wisconsin
Companies: foxconn


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  1. icon
    tom (profile), 20 May 2019 @ 8:42am

    Turns out the real winners are the ones that lost the Foxcon and Amazon bidding wars.


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