Shawn Johnson

Foxconn Won’t Build TVs in Wisconsin

Can’t compete in U.S., company exec tells Reuters.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jan 30th, 2019 09:29 am
Design for Foxconn's campus. Photo from the WEDC.

Design for Foxconn’s campus. Photo from the WEDC.

Tech giant Foxconn won’t build televisions in Wisconsin, according to a report in Reuters, focusing instead on hiring engineers and researchers at its Mount Pleasant facility.

While Foxconn Technology Group said Wednesday it remained committed to the Wisconsin project and the jobs it promised, the move would represent a dramatic about-face for the company, whose promise to bring TV manufacturing to North America helped it secure billions of dollars in state tax incentives.

Reuters spoke to Louis Woo, a special assistant to Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, who cited the steep costs of manufacturing TV screens in the United States.

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

Woo said it would be more profitable to make LCD panels in China and Japan, then ship them to Mexico for final assembly.

In a statement Wednesday morning to WPR, Foxconn did not dispute the Reuters report, but said the company remained committed to Wisconsin.

“We remain committed to the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park project, the creation of 13,000 jobs, and to our long-term investment in Wisconsin,” the company said in an email. “As we have previously noted, the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed. As our plans are driven by those of our customers, this has necessitated the adjustment of plans for all projects, including Wisconsin.”

Woo told Reuters about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual Wisconsin jobs would be in research, development and design.

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory,” Woo told Reuters. “You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment.”

The massive scale of the Foxconn project was a major selling point for former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who boasted that once it was finally built, the Wisconsin plant would be the size of “11 Lambeau fields.”

The incentives package Walker negotiated and signed in 2017 would have Wisconsin state government pay Foxconn up to about $3 billion in tax credits depending on the size of the plant it builds and the number of employees it hires. When all state and local incentives are added up, Wisconsin’s Foxconn package totaled roughly $4.5 billion.

Report: Foxconn Won’t Build TVs At Wisconsin Plant was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

Categories: Business, Politics

4 thoughts on “Foxconn Won’t Build TVs in Wisconsin”

  1. Swblackwood says:

    Well on the bright side, the taxpayers won’t be on the hook for the entire $3bn. There’s no way there will be 13000 “knowledge” workers in total. On the really down side, Pleasant Prairie and Racine County are royally screwed. They money they kicked in is gone.

  2. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Who could have seen this coming? Other than anyone who had a clue and wasn’t bought off?


  3. Granular says:

    With the massive TIF district created by Mount Pleasant to support this project, can they afford this not to happen? Or has the State of Wisconsin actively driven a municipality towards bankruptcy?

  4. frank a schneiger says:

    In the late 20th century, several ideas took hold in our country. One was that business was smart, and government was stupid and incompetent. The second was that the only real value was shareholder value. And the third was about how great globalization and things like NAFTA were going to be for everyone.

    When thoughtful people warned about a race to the bottom, they were dismissed as alarmists and losers. Over time, business, especially large corporate sectors, gained increasing control over governments, especially at the state level. And few states bought into it like Wisconsin under Scott Walker, the state’s Republicans, its small group of big donors, and the ALEC crowd. Their driving messages were that taxes are evil and regulations and laws are destroying the economy along with the constant subtext that all of the problems of “regular” Americans were caused by scapegoat groups rather than plutocrats.

    One of their favorite strategies was creating bidding wars between cities and states for the location of their businesses, with promises of many, many jobs and a windfall of tax revenues. The result is always the same: the jobs never materials in the numbers promised and shifting the tax burden from corporations to “ordinary” citizens, who, resenting them, vote for people who promise to cut their taxes too: results, our enormous inequality and third world infrastructure, among other things.

    Foxconn is the ultimate example of this practice, the only real surprise being how little time it took for them to renege on their promises. But, people shouldn’t be too harsh in their judgement of Scott Walker and the gang – okay, I take it back, maybe they should – because the temptation is great, and nobody wants to be a loser, right? Talk to any city or state development official, and they are constantly besieged by the “gimme” guys from the corporate sector, always with the threat to go elsewhere.

    The only way to stop this insidious practice is through federal legislation that outlaws these kind of race to the bottom incentives. And the only way to do that is to drive the Republicans from power in Washington, and, even then, it will be an uphill struggle with entrenched corporate power.

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