Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.
Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead.
Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.
“In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” he said in an interview. “We can’t compete...In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.”
An economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee says Foxconn Technology Group’s decision to change the focus of its massive project in the state “is one enormous bait and switch.”
UW-M’s Center of Economic Development Director Marc Levine said in an email to The Associated Press that the project sold to the public “had a patina of attractiveness” because it could boost manufacturing jobs. But Levine says it’s “clear that Foxconn will do nothing of the sort” and he called the project “imperiled.”
Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz says the state was promised manufacturing jobs and a “game changing economic opportunity.” But he says it appears Foxconn may be “leaving another state and community high and dry.”
Call the Governor’s office and tell him to ensure that the interests of Wisconsin workers and taxpayers are protected.