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Foxconn receives permit to change Wisconsin manufacturing plant to storage: report

Foxconn receives permit to change Wisconsin manufacturing plant to storage: report

An investigative report by The Verge found that an electronic manufacturing complex promised by Foxconn in Wisconsin did not meet its requirements to operate.

Two years after breaking ground on what was supposed to be a 20-million-square-foot LCD-manufacturing complex, the Taiwan-based company received a permit to convert their facilities into storage, according to the report.

In 2018, Foxconn promised the new complex would bring in 13,000 jobs and create a new Silicon Valley in the Midwest. 

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Last week, officials from Wisconsin sent a letter to the company informing them that they did not have enough full-time employees to qualify for state tax credits. This is the second year it has failed to meet this requirement.

According to 19 employees who spoke to The Verge, conditions were far from what was promised from the very beginning. New hires arrived at the 1960s office building bought by the manufacturing giant only to discover they were expected to provide their own office supplies and were often trapped in malfunctioning elevators. 

The Verge reported that several different concepts were considered to make the facility profitable including turning it into a fish farm, exporting dairy products and renting it out as storage space. 

Foxconn has announced immaterial or less-than-planned developments in Brazil, Pennsylvania and Indonesia. The real cost of the facility appears to have fallen on the shoulders of state and local governments, with more than $400 million spent on land and infrastructure on behalf of the company that it will likely never use.

The article also points out countless illusions that were made to make the facilities appear like sound investments, including in 2019 when hundreds of people were hired in the last two months of the year in order to meet quotas, only for layoffs to begin in January.

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The report indicates that several huge buildings sit empty on the campus. Yet, despite the failings, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE has held up the campus as a win for job creation and investment.

Foxconn said in a statement that its project was impacted, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic.

"In response to changes in global technology markets which were greatly accelerated by COVID-19, Foxconn entered into formal contract negotiations beginning in August 2020 with [Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation] officials in good faith to discuss new terms of an agreement that have a  consequential impact on Racine County and the Village of Mount Pleasant. Unfortunately, WEDC’s determination of ineligibility for performance-based incentives during ongoing discussions was a surprise that threatens the good faith negotiations," the company said in a statement to The Hill.

"While we are disappointed with the WEDC actions, we are confident that Foxconn and WEDC will be able to resume discussions and work together to reach an agreement that will support our efforts to bring smart manufacturing technologies and jobs to Wisconsin. We appreciate the significant support we continue to receive from local officials, our academic and non-governmental organization partners, the Wisconsin business community, and the vast majority of state officials."

-- Updated on 10/20/2020