The Foxconn Technology Group says it remains committed to its Wisconsin project as a top company executive told Reuters the Taiwanese manufacturer is looking at shifting away from LCD manufacturing in the state and instead focusing on a technology hub.
Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters the company is looking to hire mostly engineers and researchers in Wisconsin instead of a manufacturing workforce.
In its statement this morning, the Foxconn Technology Group said it has adjusted plans for all projects, including Wisconsin, to reflect market demands.
“While the project’s focus will be adjusted to meet these new realities, the Wisconsin project remains a priority for our company,” the statement said.
While Foxconn initially pledged to make “large-sized LCD panels which will be used in a wide range of technologies,” according to past statements from the company, officials later announced the facility would also produce panels that “will be used in a wide range of applications that impact consumers’ daily lives,” including notebooks, monitors and more.
But Woo told Reuters in addition to moving away from LCD manufacturing, the company was looking at using the Wisconsin facility for packaging and assembly operations that would manufacture “specialized tech products.”
In the report, Woo noted the high costs to produce advanced TV screens in the U.S., where labor expenses are higher than in other countries.
The Foxconn Technology Group’s statement said the company is looking at ways to promote research and development at its Wisconsin facility. But the statement didn’t address Reuters’ report, citing company sources, that Foxconn is now looking at employing closer to 1,000 workers at the end of 2020 rather than the 5,200 originally targeted. Reuters also reported Foxconn was prepared to walk away from future incentives if it wasn’t able to hit Wisconsin’s job creation and capital investment requirements.
Earlier this month, Foxconn reported to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. that it had created 178 jobs that met the requirements to qualify for tax credits included in the state’s nearly $3 billion incentive package.
But that was 82 jobs short of the minimum 260 needed to qualify for the credits, and the company had a target of 1,040.
In today’s statement, the company said it remained committed to its original announcement of creating 13,000 jobs.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, a frequent critic of the project, said the development was the latest example of the company falling short of its original promises. He said that runs from first promising to produce cutting edge, large LCD panels to then scaling back the size of the screens to now looking at a mostly engineering facility.
“The only part you had to get right if you were Foxconn was transparency and accountability, and I don’t think there’s anybody in the state right now who has any idea what their plans are, including Foxconn,” said Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
See the Foxconn statement: