Foxconn to proceed with Wisconsin plant after Trump intervention

by Samuel Abasi Posted on February 2nd, 2019

Foxconn Technology Group says that after its chairman spoke with President Donald Trump the Taiwanese company plans to proceed with plans to construct a plant in Wisconsin that will make screens that can be used for small electronic devices.

The news Friday comes after a week of confusion about Foxconn’s plans in Wisconsin. The company had said last year that it was planning to build such a facility in Wisconsin, but comments by a Foxconn official this week that it was not building a factory in the state cast the future of the project in doubt.

Foxconn says that after productive discussions with the White House, and a personal conversation between Trump and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, it plans to proceed with the smaller manufacturing facility.

Foxconn says it will be an advanced manufacturing facility and the hub of its project in Wisconsin.

EARLIER: Foxconn reconsiders Wisconsin plant Trump touted

Foxconn, which raised hopes of a US manufacturing revival by announcing a new factory in Wisconsin, is now reconsidering its plans.

The Taiwanese manufacturing giant no longer expects to make liquid crystal display panels at the Wisconsin plant, a company official told Reuters.

It plans to hire mostly engineers and researchers not manufacturing workers.

The changes are a significant shift from the firm’s plans announced at a White House ceremony in 2017.

At the time, US President Donald Trump claimed credit for landing the investment, which he said was a sign his policies were returning investment to the US.

The yet-to-be-built facility was the “eighth wonder of the world”, he said at a groundbreaking ceremony last summer.

Foxconn, a major Apple supplier, had pledged to invest $10bn (£7.6bn) in the plant, which was expected to initially employ 3,000 people, with a potential for up to 13,000, mainly entry-level jobs.

New realities

In a statement on Wednesday, Foxconn cited a changed global marketplace, saying all of its projects are being “adjusted to meet these new realities.”

“We remain committed to the Wisconsin Valley Science and Technology Park Project, the creation of 13,000 jobs, and to our long-term investment in Wisconsin. As we have previously noted, the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed,” the company said.

The state of Wisconsin had agreed to support the project with controversial incentives worth more than $3bn.

Critics of those incentives had long said they did not think that Foxconn would deliver on its promises.

The firm has already fallen short of yearly hiring goals, preventing its receipt of tax credits last year.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn boss Terry Gou, told Reuters that the firm was still evaluating options for Wisconsin – including creating a “technology hub” made up largely of research facilities for high-tech products aimed at health care, industrial.

But he said high labour costs in the US meant making advanced TV screens didn’t make sense.

“In terms of TV, we have no place in the US,” he told Reuters. “We can’t compete.”

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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