Foxconn says it will move ahead with Gen 6 LCD display plant in Mount Pleasant

Announcement today follows review and talks with White House

Gov. Scott Walker, President Donald Trump, Foxconn founder Terry Gou and House Speaker Paul Ryan at the Foxconn groundbreaking ceremony in Mount Pleasant.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 pm

After a week of headlines suggesting Foxconn was abandoning or at least reevaluating plans for a LCD display fabrication facility in Mount Pleasant, the company now says it will move ahead with a Gen 6 fab at the complex.

In an announcement today, the company said it reached the decision following “productive discussions” with the White House and a personal conversation between President Donald Trump and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou.

“Our decision is also based on a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation to help determine the best fit for our Wisconsin project among TFT technologies,” the company said.

A Reuters story earlier this week suggested the company was reconsidering its plans for a display facility in Wisconsin. That report was followed by one from Nikkei Asian Review that said Foxconn was suspending work on the Wisconsin project.

Foxconn pushed back on those reports in statements that said it was evaluating what kind of thin-film-transistor technology to produce in Wisconsin. The company also detailed a number of advanced manufacturing plants it planned to build in Mount Pleasant in the next 18 months.

A company representative declined to say what about the conversation with Trump helped convince Gou to move ahead with the Mount Pleasant project.

The company is moving ahead with the projects it said it would build in the next 18 months. Those facilities include assembly, packaging and molding operations. Building those facilities first would allow the company to ship components to Mount Pleasant for assembly while the fabrication facility, which would actually make the screens, is built.

Getting operations up and running would help the company increase its employment in the state, allowing it to potentially earn payroll tax credits. The company needs at least 1,820 employees in 2020 to earn any tax credits for job creation.

The Gen 6 plant, however, is still a departure from Foxconn’s original plans. When the project was first announced, the company said it would build a Gen 10.5 plant to make the largest screens in the world. The larger screen market, however, has been plagued by oversupply in recent years. The company said last year it would opt for the smaller screen plant, which also would not require a glass plant to be built on site

The price of a 65-inch display coming from a fab has fallen from $408 in June 2017 to $223. Industry observers, however, say the price drop could have been anticipated with the number of display facilities that had been announced at that time.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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