Foxconn may not build $10B Wisconsin plant Trump touted

The 20-million square foot campus was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Donald Trump,Scott Walker,Terry Gou
President Donald Trump, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou participate in a groundbreaking event for the new Foxconn facility in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin, on June 28, 2018.Evan Vucci / AP file

Foxconn is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing. Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead. Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high. Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States. Heavily criticized in some quarters, the Foxconn project was championed by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who helped secure around $4 billion in tax breaks and other incentives before leaving office. Critics of the deal, including a number of Democrats, called it a corporate giveaway that would never result in the promised manufacturing jobs and posed serious environmental risks. The company’s own growth projections and employment goals suggest the taxpayer investment would take at least 25 years to recoup, according to budget think tank the Wisconsin Budget Project.