Mr. Gou – Your Turn
An open letter to the chairman of Foxconn.
To: Terry T.M.Gou, Chairman – Foxconn
Jiǔwéndàmíng. [Translation: I have heard much about you.]
Starting with $7,500 and a few workers in 1974, you built one of the largest electronics design and high-tech manufacturing companies in the world. Its 2015 revenues were $136 billion. You control your companies from Taiwan, where your parents moved from China in 1949.
You are poised to become Gov. Scott Walker’s partner in either turning southeast Wisconsin into a Midwest Silicon Valley, or Wisconsin’s version of mythical con man Harold Hill, who had residents of an Iowa hamlet donate money for a town band. It was a Broadway play and movie, Music Man.
On July 26-27, you joined President Donald Trump and Walker in White House and Wisconsin announcements of Foxconn’s plans for a huge LCD manufacturing campus in Wisconsin.
Now, Wisconsin’s Legislature and governor have taken the first giant step to live up their end of the deal.
The Legislature passed, and the governor will soon sign into law, the largest financial incentive package any state government has ever offered a private company, let alone a foreign-owned company:
Up to $2.85 billion in tax credits over the next 15 years if – and it’s a big if – Foxconn invests $10 billion in the state, and hires up to 13,000 workers in Wisconsin. State officials say your new plant would require 1,000 acres, have a floor space of 20 million square feet (“11 Lambeau Fields,” “three times the size of the Pentagon”), require 10,000 construction workers and create 6,000 indirect jobs.
Those numbers are so big Wisconsin residents have trouble grasping them.
One example: The state Department of Revenue says all Wisconsin manufacturing property is valued at $14.3 billion. A $10 billion plant would – with just one investment – boost the value of manufacturing property statewide by 69%.
Champions of the deal say it requires an exciting vision of Wisconsin’s manufacturing’s future.
“Foxconn is committing to create an entirely new industry here – an industry that simply does not exist in the U.S. today,” said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee chamber of Commerce. “Wisconsin would stand at the epicenter of the evolving digital world.”
But, Mr. Gou, one statewide poll suggested that more than one-third of Wisconsin residents either don’t trust you to live up to your end of the deal or think you are being offered too much of their tax money.
There are several reasons for their doubts.
First, no company executive has stepped forward to be the Wisconsin face of Foxconn. That person would take questions from legislators, offer follow-up assurances and construction and hiring timetables, and explain why some past Foxconn development promises – in Pennsylvania and in foreign countries– have been broken.
Second, Wisconsinites don’t know where the Foxconn campus exactly would be located. Although signs increasingly point to Racine County, having a definite site would be one more sign that Foxconn is serious about its end of the deal.
Third, there are no fine-print details of the final development pact for Wisconsin taxpayers, and reporters, to review. Mark Hogan, CEO of the state’s economic development agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said his agency is negotiating that contract. But it won’t be available before Walker signs the bill authorizing the incentives.
Opponents say just two documents – a handwritten agreement signed by you and Walker and a three-page memorandum of understanding – shouldn’t be the basis of a development package of this size .
Fourth, there is a fear that the Foxconn deal was rushed through the Capitol. The biggest incentives – a “subsidy” and “giveaway,” according to Democrats who voted against the deal – for a private company in U.S. history was announced on July 26, and cleared the Legislature seven weeks later.
It took more than seven months – between Feb. 8 and mid-September – for Republicans to work out a state budget, which will spend $76 billion through mid-2019.
Democrats said they didn’t have enough details to mortgage state government’s future with $2.85 billion in tax breaks.
“Do you buy a house by shaking someone’s hand? Do you go to car dealership and say, ‘I’d like to buy a car,’ and shake hands?” said Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter, of Milwaukee. “That’s what we’re doing here.”
Thank you for your time, Mr. Gou.
Zăi huai. [Goodbye.]
Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
More about the Foxconn Facility
- Wisconsin Can’t Afford Another Foxconn “Nuclear Bomb” - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Oct 20th, 2017
- What are Walker and Foxconn hiding? - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Oct 17th, 2017
- Foxconn gamble shrouded in secrecy - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Oct 16th, 2017
- Court Watch: Foxconn Law Transforms State Courts - Margo Kirchner - Oct 12th, 2017
- Walker and Forty-Fifth President Sweeten Deal for Foxconn - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Sep 28th, 2017
- Walker picks Foxconn over Wisconsin schools and roads - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Sep 18th, 2017
- Governor Walker Signs Wisconn Valley Special Session Bill into Law - Gov. Scott Walker - Sep 18th, 2017
- The State of Politics: Mr. Gou – Your Turn - Steven Walters - Sep 18th, 2017
- Governor Walker Applauds Legislature for Approving Wisconn Valley Special Session Bill - Gov. Scott Walker - Sep 14th, 2017
- Governor Walker Releases Statement on Bipartisan Senate Passage of Wisconn Valley Special Session Legislation - Gov. Scott Walker - Sep 12th, 2017
- WEDC’s Poor Jobs Accountability Record Makes Foxconn Deal a Scandal Waiting to Happen - Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Sep 11th, 2017
- Op Ed: Foxconn Deal Suspends Judicial Rules - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Sep 11th, 2017
- GOP Puts $3 Billion Foxconn Thumb on Scales of Justice - One Wisconsin Now - Sep 5th, 2017
- Op Ed: Foxconn Multiplier Overstates New Jobs - William L. Holahan and Charles O. Kroncke - Sep 2nd, 2017
- Walker administration misleads on environmental rollbacks for Foxconn - State Rep. Katrina Shankland - Aug 31st, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Newest Deal Shows Foxconn Flaws - Bruce Murphy - Aug 29th, 2017
- The State of Politics: Would Democratic Governor Kill Foxconn Deal? - Steven Walters - Aug 28th, 2017
- Op Ed: Illinois Loves Our Foxconn Deal - State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - Aug 26th, 2017
- Biking: Foxconn, Biking and State Roads - Dave Cieslewicz - Aug 25th, 2017
- Op Ed: Foxconn Should Embrace Green Goals - John Torinus - Aug 24th, 2017
- Washington State Representative Offers Warning for Wisconsin on Foxconn - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 24th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Paper Peddles Bogus Foxconn Report - Bruce Murphy - Aug 23rd, 2017
- Representative Lisa Subeck Calls on Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs to Focus on Budget, Prioritize People over Profits - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Aug 22nd, 2017
- Governor Walker Highlights Opportunities Foxconn Brings for Wisconsin’s Healthcare Industry - Gov. Scott Walker - Aug 22nd, 2017
- The State of Politics: Foxconn Biggest Deal in State History - Steven Walters - Aug 21st, 2017
- Statewide Online Tool Assists Wisconsin Companies Seeking to Do Business with Foxconn - Gov. Scott Walker - Aug 21st, 2017
- The Senate Must be The Grownups in the Room… Again. - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Aug 21st, 2017
- Op Ed: The Many Broken Promises of Foxconn - State Rep. David Bowen - Aug 20th, 2017
- Rep. Goyke Statement on Foxconn Special Session Bill - State Rep. Evan Goyke - Aug 18th, 2017
- Wisconsin Budget: Foxconn Could Take Till 2058 To Pay Off - Jon Peacock - Aug 18th, 2017
- Governor Walker Releases Statement on Bipartisan Assembly Passage of Wisconn Valley Special Session Legislation - Gov. Scott Walker - Aug 18th, 2017
- Republican Agenda Puts Corporate Welfare Package for Taiwanese Company Ahead of our Public Schools - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Aug 17th, 2017
- Rep. Sinicki Votes No on Foxconn Package - State Rep. Christine Sinicki - Aug 17th, 2017
- Statement from Rep. Barca on the Assembly Passage of Foxconn Bill - State Rep. Peter Barca - Aug 17th, 2017
- Facts on Foxconn Trump Proponents’ Protestations Deal Would Benefit Wisconsin - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 17th, 2017
- Foxconn Debate Cheat Sheet - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Aug 17th, 2017
- $3 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle Sells Out Wisconsin’s Future to Foreign Corporation - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Aug 17th, 2017
- Op Ed: How to Get a Better Deal From Foxconn - John Torinus - Aug 17th, 2017
- Data Wonk: Will Foxconn Deal Fight Poverty? - Bruce Thompson - Aug 16th, 2017
- Governor Walker Moderates Foxconn Roundtable Discussion in Green Bay - Gov. Scott Walker - Aug 16th, 2017
- Op Ed: Where Will Foxconn Find Workers? - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Aug 16th, 2017
- Vukmir: The time is now for Foxconn - Assistant Majority Leader Leah Vukmir - Aug 15th, 2017
- Foxconn tax break could exceed $1 million per job - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Aug 14th, 2017
- Paul Ryan Challenger Opposes $3 Billion Corporate Handout to Foxconn - Cathy Myers - Aug 14th, 2017
- The State of Politics: 10 Tough Questions About Foxconn Deal - Steven Walters - Aug 14th, 2017
- Dana Wachs Announces Opposition to Foxconn Package - State Rep. Dana Wachs - Aug 13th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: Did Foxconn Lobby Illegally? - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Aug 12th, 2017
- Statement from Rep. Barca Regarding Republican Amendment to Foxconn Bill - State Rep. Peter Barca - Aug 11th, 2017
- Statement: Amendment to Special Session Assembly Bill 1 - Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos - Aug 11th, 2017
- Op Ed: Renegotiate the Foxconn Deal - Matt Flynn - Aug 11th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Walker’s Desperate Deal With Foxconn - Bruce Murphy - Aug 10th, 2017
- Foxconn Deal Flounders in State Legislature - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 10th, 2017
- If ‘Ifs’ and ‘Buts’ Are Candies and Nuts We’ll Have Foxconn Deal Paid Off in 2043 - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 9th, 2017
- Rep. Shankland: Statement on Foxconn Analysis - State Rep. Katrina Shankland - Aug 8th, 2017
- Foxconn Fiscal Analysis Deeply Troubling for Wisconsin Taxpayers - State Rep. David Crowley - Aug 8th, 2017
- Statement from Rep. Barca on New Fiscal Analysis of Proposed Foxconn Deal - State Rep. Peter Barca - Aug 8th, 2017
- Rep. Hintz Statement on Foxconn Cost to Taxpayers - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Aug 8th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: Bill Has $10 Million Giveaway to Fiserv - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Aug 8th, 2017
- Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Calls For Foxconn Project to Include Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses - Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce - Aug 7th, 2017
- Wisconsin Budget: The High Cost of Foxconn - Jon Peacock - Aug 4th, 2017
- What Does the Foxconn CEO Say About His Employees? - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 4th, 2017
- Foxconn Hearing: Big Promises, Little Details, Lacks Transportation Plan - State Rep. David Crowley - Aug 3rd, 2017
- One Wisconsin Now Testimony on Foxconn Subsidy Legislation - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 3rd, 2017
- No Guarantees to Prevent Wisconsin Tax Dollars From Subsidizing Illinois Jobs in Foxconn Deal - One Wisconsin Now - Aug 2nd, 2017
- Unnecessary to Sacrifice Natural Resources for Foxconn - Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters - Jul 31st, 2017
- Statement from Rep. Barca on Foxconn Developments - State Rep. Peter Barca - Jul 28th, 2017
- The Contrarian: Walker’s Reelection Now A Certainty - George Mitchell - Jul 28th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Foxconn Loves Wisconsin, Walker - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 27th, 2017
- Governor Walker, Foxconn Founder and CEO Terry Gou Sign Memorandum of Understanding in Milwaukee - Gov. Scott Walker - Jul 27th, 2017
- REALTORS® Welcome Foxconn - Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® - Jul 27th, 2017
- MATC Statement on Foxconn - Milwaukee Area Technical College - Jul 26th, 2017
- Statement from Rep. Barca on Foxconn Economic Development Announcement - State Rep. Peter Barca - Jul 26th, 2017
- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele Statement on Foxconn Announcement - County Executive Chris Abele - Jul 26th, 2017
- Global High-Tech Manufacturer Foxconn Announces $10 Billion Investment, Will Create 13,000 Jobs in New Wisconsin Campus - Gov. Scott Walker - Jul 26th, 2017
- Foxconn Frenzy: Proceed with Caution - State Sen. Chris Larson - Jul 26th, 2017
- Shilling cautious on Foxconn announcement - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Jul 26th, 2017
- Op Ed: Loss of Talgo Train Hurts Foxconn Deal - James Rowen - Jul 20th, 2017
- Mayor Barrett Supports Siting Foxconn Facility in Southeastern Wisconsin - Mayor Tom Barrett - Jul 17th, 2017
- On the Air: How Likely Is It Foxconn Will Create 10,000 Jobs? - Urban Milwaukee - Jul 13th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Walker Building Yesterday’s Economy - Bruce Murphy - Jul 13th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Foxconn Lands in Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 10th, 2017