But almost four years later, the complex that promised to create a Silicon Valley in the industrial Midwest is essentially a white elephant, a collection of mostly empty buildings with no high-tech products to build.
And this week it became official: The promised investments of up to 10 billion US dollars to create up to 13,000 jobs are not coming.
“When I became governor, I made a promise to work with Foxconn to do a better deal for our state,” said Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday. “The last deal didn’t work in Wisconsin, and it doesn’t work for me.”
Democrat Evers made opposition to the lucrative package one of the main themes of the 2018 campaign in which he defeated incumbent Governor Scott Walker, a Republican and ally of President Trump.
The new deal is actually an improvement for Foxconn, which ran the risk of not receiving government incentives after dropping plans to build flat panel displays for televisions and other products.
The company said in a statement that it is grateful that the new deal “enables Foxconn, like other manufacturers in the state, to earn tax incentives based on job creation and capital investment regardless of the type of products and goods manufactured.” Foxconn said its $ 672 million capital commitment still makes it one of the state’s “largest economic development projects on the books”.
“Conservatively it was over $ 200,000 per job,” said Tim Bartik, chief economist at the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a non-partisan think tank that investigated the original deal. “Typically, the incentives for a new business are close to $ 50,000 per job. This new package comes close.”
In the early days of the pandemic, Foxconn Face masks and ventilators were made at the Wisconsin facility. However, the company has not yet announced how much of its 1.4 million square feet, spread over three buildings, is now in use. The plans are based on “current projections for hardware products for the digital infrastructure through 2025” but did not include details of these products. The company claims it currently has “several hundred” employees on the property.
Foxconn continued to insist on hiring all scheduled employees, but changed the plan for what they would do.
Finally, last fall, the WEDC voted that Foxconn was not eligible to receive the earlier incentive package, citing the fact that the company no longer planned to build the flat screens it had promised. This decision paved the way for renewed negotiations and led to the new stripped-down agreement.
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