Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it meant to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.
Woo said a factory would not be built in Wisconsin: "You can't use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment".
Louis Woo, the special assistant to Foxconn chief executive Terry Gou, told the press service that the company was still considering its options in Wisconsin, but said the cost of manufacturing TVs in the us was simply too high. Research, assembly, and packaging would be the focus, suggesting that a product could be designed in Wisconsin, sent over to China for manufacture, and then shipped to the USA for final assembly, packaging, and shipment to consumers.
In a statement, Foxconn said it remains committed to Wisconsin and the creation of 13,000 jobs as promised.
"In Wisconsin we're not building a factory", Woo told Reuters.
The much-touted facility was heralded by President Donald Trump and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as proof that they were returning manufacturing to the Midwest and the United States. The jobs created are likely to be "knowledge" positions-in other words, not blue collar jobs-Woo tells Reuters. In 2013, the company vowed to create 300 manufacturing jobs by investing $30 million in a technology factory in central Pennsylvania, only to quietly scrap that plan after it garnered an initial burst of positive PR. Tony Evers, a Democrat who was critical of Foxconn in his campaign against Walker, could not be reached for comment. Gordon Hintz, minority leader in the Wisconsin State Assembly, expressed concerns that Foxconn would fall far short, under a deal regarded as the richest tax credit, exemption, and subsidy package in state history.
But the global economic climate - roiled by Trump's trade war with China where Foxconn has most of its assembly lines - has led officials at the Taiwanese company to look again at the original plans.
It had already fallen short past year, hiring 178 full-time employees rather than the 260 targeted, and failed to earn a state tax credit worth up to $9.5 million. They also said the massive plant that was relying on water from nearby Lake Michigan posed serious environmental risks. Governor Evers has an anti-jobs agenda and pledged to do away with a successful business incentive for manufacturing and agriculture. And he scoffed at the idea that Foxconn, known for manufacturing, could transform into a research and development giant.
"So I do think that there is a lot of positive things that are yet to come knowing Mr. Gou and Foxconn", said Republican Representative Pat Snyder who represents Wisconsin's 85th Assembly District.
But what was left out of the statement was that Walker and others pursued the deal in large part because the massive development is expected to generate other new businesses, new housing and other economic activity that will, in turn, produce even more tax revenue. "Greatest phrase ever used in politics, I suspect".
July 11, 2018: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn said "Foxconn will not face oversight from any federal, state, or local agency to guarantee it complies with our wetlands protection laws." . But he says it appears Foxconn may be "leaving another state and community high and dry".