Foxconn again shifts Wisconsin plan after Trump intervenes

Andrew Cummings
February 3, 2019

The "campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region", Foxconn said in a statement.

Apple supplier Foxconn confirmed on Friday that it will build a $10 billion Wisconsin plant, after concerns bubbled up this week that it was backing away from its initial commitment.

In comments published on Wednesday, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn's Gou, told Reuters those plans might be scaled back or even shelved, citing the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.

September 18, 2017: Republican Gov. Scott Walker signs an unprecedented $3 billion state incentives package for the plant, brushing aside critics who warn the package is too expensive.

Still, Trump hailed Foxconn's move today in a tweet: "Great news on Foxconn in Wisconsin after my conversation with Terry Gou!".

Mount Pleasant resident Paul Pham said he won't be sold on the deal until Foxconn's commitment to 13,000 jobs are fulfilled.

When companies draft factory plans, they conduct months of research, said Jeffrey Dorfman, an economics professor at the University of Georgia who has followed the Foxconn deal.

Some in the state have blamed Evers for the alleged shifting of Foxconn's plan.

February 1, 2019: Foxconn changes its plans again after Chairman Terry Gou speaks directly with Trump, announcing the company will make Generation 6 screens at the Mount Pleasant site after all.

Foxconn released a statement saying that the company's need to be responsive to the global market environment necessitated a reconsideration of which technology will best suit the needs of its customers.

Speaking to thousands of Foxconn employees at a Chinese New Year carnival in Taipei on Saturday, Gou said investing in the U.S. "is undoubtedly a right decision and fits with future economic trends".

The company, which has invested about $200m in the schemes so far, may also change the function of the USA plant away from display manufacturing and towards a research and development hub, Nikkei Asian Review reported yesterday.

Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is the world's largest contract-electronics manufacturer and assembles most of its products in China, leaving it acutely vulnerable to Trump's tariffs. It later said it would build smaller Generation 6 LCD screens instead.

President Donald Trump (C), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (L), and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou at the groundbreaking for the Foxconn Technology Group computer screen plant in Mt Pleasant, Wis., on June 28, 2018. Advocate Aurora Chief Business Development Officer Rick Klein told the Chicago Tribune the system is "focused on advancing our plans to expand access to care in communities throughout southeast Wisconsin".

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