WEDC, Evers admin deny report Evers sought to renegotiate Foxconn contract

Foxconn and WEDC both pushed back on a report by Nikkei that the Taiwanese manufacturer was suspending and scaling back its Wisconsin plant following negotiations with Gov. Tony Evers.

Citing sources it didn’t identify, Nikkei reported Thursday Evers approached Foxconn to renegotiate some of the “side deals” former Gov. Scott Walker made with the company. The report also said Foxconn doesn’t plan to abandon the $10 billion facility entirely, but was halting it for further evaluation and discussion with Evers.

But Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said there have been no attempts by the company or either the Evers or Walker administrations to renegotiate the contract. What’s more, Hogan said he’s been involved with the project “from day one” and there have “never been any side deals.”

“Governor Evers and his administration have done a very good job of reaching out to company officials and developing a relationship that will protect our taxpayers’ interests and at the same time, give Foxconn the ability to be successful in Wisconsin,” Hogan said.

The Foxconn Technology Group, meanwhile, called the Nikkei report inaccurate and said the Wisconsin project continues.

It also again acknowledged that it is reconsidering “which technology will best suit the needs” of customers but remains committed to the Wisconsin project. It also again laid out its plans over the next 18 months to construct a packaging plant, molding factory and assembly facility, among other things, in Racine County.

“All interactions to date with Governor Evers and his team have been constructive, and we look forward to further discussions as we continue to invest in American talent and broaden the base of our investment within the State of Wisconsin,” the company said in a statement.

The report is the latest development on Foxconn’s plans for the Racine County site. Earlier this month, the company notified WEDC it had failed to create enough jobs to qualify for the first year of tax credits under the state’s nearly $3 billion incentive package. Then Wednesday, Reuters reported Foxconn was looking to change the focus of its Wisconsin project to a research and development hub rather than a manufacturing facility as was first envisioned following an interview with Louis Woo, special assistant to company’s chief executive.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, sought to blame Evers after yesterday’s news broke, saying the guv has an “anti-jobs agenda.”

Spokesmen for Fitzgerald and Vos didn’t return calls today seek follow-up comment. Vos today tweeted the Nikkei story and adding, “BREAKING: @NAR says #Foxconn changes in #Wisconsin due to @GovEvers negotiations.”

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff pushed back against claims that Evers had tried to renegotiate the contract, writing on Twitter the suggestion was false.

“It is unfortunate that Republicans would rather try to make headlines with political finger-pointing than work with the governor to protect Wisconsin taxpayers,” she wrote.

See the WEDC statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/wedc-statement-from-mark-r-hogan-secretary-and-ceo/

See the Foxconn statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/foxconn-technology-group-statement-2/ 

See the Nikkei report:
https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Trade-War/Foxconn-s-20bn-projects-in-US-and-China-hit-by-growth-fears 

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