Foxconn’s Woo: Reaching 13,000 jobs could take eight years

Initial hiring focused on construction, R&D engineers

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, visits a recruiting event at Marquette.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

Wisconsin and Foxconn Technology Group officials continue to work on contract details, but the company has hit the ground running when it comes to building its workforce in the state.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, visits a recruiting event at Marquette.

Foxconn participated in a job fair at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week and was on campus at Marquette University on Monday. The company has also posted two dozen positions on, ranging from human resources to procurement to engineering.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, said the company’s immediate needs will focus on construction work to build its 20-million-square-foot manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant and research and development staff for a training and experimental production facility.

“We want to do things very differently here in the states,” Woo said in an interview.

He said the company would be looking to use the latest Internet of Things and advanced manufacturing technology to determine how best to produce products at the Mount Pleasant campus.

“That will be a couple lines we are working on purely doing experiments and also inviting partners, could be Rockwell Automation, could be Johnson Controls or others, to come in to work with us to build out this line,” Woo said.

Winnie Tu, Foxconn director of business administration, said Foxconn is in the process of setting up the experimental line now and is putting a plan together to determine how much staff it will need for those operations.

Foxconn’s eventual plans call for the company to create 13,000 jobs in connection with its LCD campus, but Woo cautioned that the company won’t be looking to staff up to those levels immediately.

“The 13,000 would not be going up very quickly because it will take us about four to five years to build out our campus,” Woo said.

The full campus will include four facilities, starting with a thin-film transistor liquid crystal display plant, followed by a back-end liquid crystal display module packaging operation and a facility focused on molding and tool and die work. The fourth facility would be for assembly of final products.

Woo said the timing of construction work could impact the timeline for the company hiring all 13,000 workers.

A Foxconn recruiting event at Marquette.

“(If) we are looking at the full 13,000, it may be six, seven, eight years down the line,” he said.

The pace of Foxconn’s hiring is an important part of the state getting a return on its $3 billion investment in the company as the income taxes paid by employees will be a major part of the benefit the state sees.

Supplier payroll taxes will also be a key part. The local Racine County incentive package doesn’t count on suppliers locating near Foxconn to fund $764 million in tax incremental financing, but any supplier development in the TIF district will help pay off the costs of planned infrastructure improvements faster.

The timing of suppliers setting up operations in Wisconsin could also be influenced by how quickly Foxconn builds out its initial campus. Woo declined to name any of the suppliers that might be following Foxconn to Wisconsin, but said many would be coming from Asia.

“I would imagine it’s probably in the later part of the construction,” he said, referring to the roughly four year period during which the company plans to build out operations. “We are certainly bringing in a lot of suppliers, especially from Asia, because most of the suppliers today are in Asia … we are not taking a supplier from California and trying to convince them to move from California to Wisconsin, that is not a net win for America.”

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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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