If you’ve been following Wisconsin news the last few weeks, Foxconn is probably a household name for you. For those that haven’t been paying attention, there is a particularly interesting (see also: shady) development going on in the Badger State.
Taiwanese technology company Foxconn originally donated $100M to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with the beginning construction of a production plant in the southeastern portion of the state. Shortly after, news broke that Foxconn was no longer building the plant. Now, the saga continues.
Government involvement isn’t new to this project. After all, the tech company received $4 billion in tax breaks from the state to build LCD TV screens at the plant. President Trump also touted the upcoming 20 million-square-foot campus as a win for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. According to original estimates, the $10 billon plant would bring 13,000 jobs to the area.
However, when news broke that Foxconn would not proceed with development of the project, Trump quickly stepped in. Though it is unsure what exactly occurred during the talks, the company is now back on track. Sort of.
Despite saying that it is once again moving forward with construction of its Wisconsin facility following talks with the White House, Foxconn has yet to clarify what jobs will be housed there. Some reports suggest that the plant will no longer be for manufacturing at all and will hire mostly engineers, rather than blue-collar workers.
Lack of Detail, Plenty of Skeptics
The tumultuous nature of the Foxconn story in Wisconsin so far has led plenty of people to be skeptical about what is really going on. It’s hard to blame them, considering that a plan that was once set in stone and sealed with a $100M promise is now up in the air.
As for the plans for production in the facility, it appears that Foxconn won’t be making TVs anymore. According to CEO Terry Gou, “In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S. We can’t compete.”
Now, the company plans to use the facility for research and development with a much smaller emphasis on manufacturing. Even so, Foxconn has been extremely quiet on the subject, not disclosing what type of jobs will be available at the facility. Meanwhile, some argue that they will not be able to create 13,000 jobs along their original timeline—or at all.
In what has been a wild ride so far, the Foxconn journey in Wisconsin is likely far from over. Will they create the jobs as promised? Will the project even reach completion? Will more government involvement push things one way or another? Only time will tell.