Foxconn may shelve plan to make LCD panels at $10B Wisconsin factory


Manufacturing giant Foxconn said it is reconsidering plans to build a $10 billion plant in Wisconsin that would make LCD screens, Reuters reports.

Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in USA history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Still, who supports the project, noted the company has already invested as much as $200 million in Wisconsin, and he's not anxious that the company might pull out.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn's CEO, was quoted as telling Reuters that it is scaling back and possibly shelving plans to build display screens in Wisconsin because "we can't compete".

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that "it has no jurisdiction", but the state Department of Natural Resources said "Foxconn is subject to federal wetland permitting requirements and must properly mitigate any impact on wetlands".

Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders who pushed the Foxconn project said they blamed the state's new Democratic governor for Foxconn's changing plans. "It would also produce specialized tech products for industrial, healthcare, and professional applications." he added. It's also not surprising Foxconn would rethink building a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin under the Evers Administration.

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Earlier this month, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc., reiterated its intention to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, but said it had slowed its pace of hiring. A technology hub doesn't need anywhere near as many staff, with the latest figure coming from a company source suggesting it could end up being just 1,000 workers. It is unclear when the full 13,000 workers will be hired. Woo said about three-quarters of the jobs created will be in research and development and design, rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs. Foxconn is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. 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 United States for final assembly, packaging, and shipment to consumers. 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.

Democratic critics, including Evers, said the incentives promised to Foxconn were too rich and questioned whether the company would ever fulfill its job creation and investment promises.

Evers' top aid Joel Brennan said in a statement that the administration was "surprised" by the news and talked with Foxconn leaders about the development. This news only strengthens our commitment to Wisconsin: "we aren't going to let our state move backward". 'You can't use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment.

Walker lost his reelection bid to Democrat Tony Evers in November amid harsh criticism of the Foxconn deal, which he'd championed since 2013.

While Trump has not responded to the Foxconn announcement CNN quoted an official as saying: "The president has created one of the strongest business climates in American history because he lowered taxes and massively cut regulations".