Economy Fraud

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

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.

From Reuters:

(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.

  • Tony Lavely

    Color me astounded…
    That they waited this long.

  • ozdog

    i don’t know what wisconsinites saw in scott fucking walker. the recall failed and then the asshole got reelected.

    he should’ve been gone and not even around to run for that third term.

    i recognized chi mcbride of “Hawaii five-0” in that gif. anyone know what show it’s from?

    • JMAshby

      The gif is from the movie Undercover Brother

  • muselet

    Having a technology hub in the US isn’t the worst idea for Foxconn. Getting Foxconn engineers and designers out of Taiwan, and out among the company’s customers would be a good thing, maybe even moving the company ahead of the competition. I wouldn’t have thought rural Wisconsin would be the ideal place for it, but that’s just me.

    Regardless, it’s a gigantic bait-and-switch.

    The number of blue-collar jobs coming from this boondoggle—championed, let no one forget, by R elected officials—dropped from 13,000 to 3,000 to however many will be needed to pack boxes and sweep the floors.

    The number of blue-collar votes the Rs will lose because of this must be estimated as effectively zero, which is why Rs keep doing this sort of thing.

    But you all knew that already.

    –alopecia

    • Badgerite

      That remains to be seen. I got a letter my State Senate Representative sent out to constituents to explain the late night lame duck session where they passed legislation designed to entrench themselves in power as much as possible and he claimed the state gop just had to do this to protect their pet economic projects ( see FoxConn) funded through the WEDC from tampering by that newly elected wild eyed radical Tony Evers. They just had to do it I tell you.
      Washington Post has them expounding on their thinking that the Foxconn Project was going to be the start of a greater vision of turning Southern Wisconsin into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.
      And that is just FFFFing ridiculous. My own opinion is they got played. I don’t think people will forget that they shortchanged their local schools and didn’t bother to spend on road repairs to fund construction on a plant that was never going to be built based on a premise that was ridiculous in the extreme.

  • gescove

    Surely this belongs in the “Who Could Have Predicted?” Hall of Fame.

  • katanahamon

    Republican business acumen triumphs again!