When Foxconn's deal with the state of Wisconsin and the Scott Walker administration was first announced in 2017, the Taiwanese technology giant pledged to build a sprawling liquid crystal display (LCD) factory that would produce large displays for televisions and employ up to 13,000 people.
Last year, Foxconn altered the terms of the deal and said they would build a smaller factory that would produce smaller displays and only employ about 3,000 people.
Now, they're not even building a factory.
(Reuters) - 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. [...]
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, [Foxconn special assistant Louis 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. [...]
Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States.
I laughed my goddamn ass off while I was still in bed reading this story early this morning.
It's one thing to see your assumptions proven true; it's another thing entirely to see events turn out even worse than you expected. I expected they would eventually build a small factory of some description, but they aren't even doing that.
It's not immediately clear what this means for Foxconn's subsidies. It's not clear what this means for the infrastructure projects around the future facility that the state of Wisconsin has already paid for. It's not clear what this means for the last local residents who've held out against attempts to evict them from their property or those who were already forced out in the name of a factory that will never be built.
You may recall that the state's investment in Foxconn was not expected to pay for itself until the year 2045, but that calculation assumed that the non-existent factory would employ up to 13,000 people for that amount of time.
Given that they are no longer even building a factory, I think it's safe to assume the state's investment will literally never pay for itself before the sun balloons into a red giant and consumes the earth.
The Wall Street Journal reported in the fall of 2018 that many of the engineers and researches who staff the new facility would be rotated in from Foxconn's operations overseas and there's no indication those plans have changed. Foxconn will not be hiring many residents of Wisconsin or even many Americans because they're building their "technology hub" in the middle of fucking nowhere because that's what former Governor Scott Walker and former Speaker Paul Ryan (it's in his former district) wanted.
I have my doubts that this "technology hub" will ever fully materialize.