Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised. […]
[Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters] the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high. […]
Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations, Woo said. It would also produce specialized tech products for industrial, healthcare, and professional applications, he added. […]
“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.
Earlier this month, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc., reiterated its intention to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, but said it had slowed its pace of hiring. The company initially said it expected to employ about 5,200 people by the end of 2020; a company source said that figure now looks likely to be closer to 1,000 workers.
OK, so how are they gonna convince all those techies to live in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin? Those folks are gravitating to cities like Chicago.
* What a mess…
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company “fell short of the minimum number of jobs it was required to create in 2018 to claim state-job creation tax credits.” The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp says that the company needed to create 260 full-time jobs, but only created 178. As a result, the company won’t receive tax credits for 2018. The WSJ cites the state’s low employment rate as a factor for the slow hiring, and notes that the company could earn $19.1 million in tax credits if it passes its hiring goal of 2,080 jobs this year. The company denied reports last November that it had been looking to bring in workers from China to bolster its workforce.
First, roughly half the Wisconsin taxpayer money is guaranteed whether or not Foxconn ever hires anyone. And second, even if the company’s dramatic re-imagining of the project does shrink the total that taxpayers will pay, it will likely prolong rather than shrink the 25-year optimistic timeline for recouping the state’s expenses here, as the Milwaukee Independent explained on the one-year anniversary of the deal’s formal passage through the state legislature.
I wonder if the Tribune editorial board still thinks this was a good idea.