Last updated on October 21st, 2020 at 11:49 am
Foxconn founder Terry Gou issued a statement Monday defending changes in the company’s plans for its Wisconsin plant and expressing the company’s commitment to it “as long as policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels remain committed to Foxconn and the very important technology development goals driving the company’s investments.”
Gou’s statement came the same day after the tech news website The Verge published a lengthy report by investigations editor Josh Dzieza on the project’s shortcomings. Dzieza’s story describes ever-evolving and often ill-defined business plans for the Foxconn project in Mount Pleasant.
Foxconn originally announced plans in 2017 for a $10 billion investment in the state that would create 13,000 jobs. The company said it would build a Gen 10.5 LCD fabrication facility designed for making large television and display screens. The plans later shifted to a smaller plant that would provide more flexibility in which products the company would make.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. notified Foxconn last week that the change meant the company would not qualify for tax incentives under a $3 billion package approved in 2017. The agency also told the company that even if it could qualify, it had only created 281 qualifying jobs, less than the 520 that were required to receive incentives.
WEDC did say that Foxconn had invested around $300 million that would have potentially qualified for tax credits as of the end of 2019 had the company not changed its plans.
“The world has changed a lot since Foxconn’s partnership with Wisconsin began, but Foxconn’s commitment to the state has not wavered. Market conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic have altered the timing of our expansion, the specifics of our manufacturing plans, and our product lines have changed. But through it all, Foxconn has pressed forward with its Wisconsin plans,” Gou said in his statement.
He said the company has invested $750 million in the state and has become the largest property tax payer in Racine County.
When Foxconn submitted its annual report to WEDC for 2019, the company claimed $280 million in qualifying investment. A third-party audit found around $415 million of investment across the entire state. Only investments in the Mount Pleasant campus qualify for tax credits. The difference between the audit figure and Gou’s $750 million total could come from investments the company has made this year.
Foxconn is nearing completion of three buildings in Mount Pleasant, including a nearly 1 million-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility, a 260,000-square-foot smart manufacturing center and a high-performance data computing center.
What work will be done in those facilities isn’t clear, according to The Verge report. Foxconn is currently making masks and ventilators in its multi-purpose building on the campus. WEDC secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said she also saw demonstration lines for circuit board assembly for servers during a recent visit.
“Foxconn re-asserts it will continue to work with President Trump and state and local government officials to create more jobs and to attract new investment to Wisconsin,” Gou said. “We are committed to economic growth in Wisconsin and are certain that our work will deliver benefits to the state and to the communities where we are operating. Foxconn will work as a partner with those who treat the company as a partner. Foxconn has greatly appreciated the support of the President and the vast majority of Wisconsin’s political leaders, including the Legislature and local elected and economic development officials.”
“Foxconn will remain committed to the completion and continued expansion of our project and investment in Wisconsin as long as policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels remain committed to Foxconn and the very important technology development goals driving the company’s investments, as President Trump has done,” Gou added. “Foxconn’s work is already delivering benefits to the people of Wisconsin that will only increase as the project moves forward and the partnership between the company and the state deepens.”