Wisconsin Gave Foxconn Millions for a Factory and Jobs That Never CameThe tech firm promised 13,000 jobs in a project involving one of the biggest public-incentive deals ever given to an international company.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to create 25 million jobs over the next decade if he won the presidency. As The Washington Post reported in 2016, he claimed to “be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” In 2018, he announced that Taiwanese technology manufacturer Foxconn’s plans to build a plant near Milwaukee, part of a deal that would bring Wisconsin 13,000 new jobs, were proof that his campaign promises were coming to fruition.
Almost a year later, Valerie Bauerlein reports in The Wall Street Journal, the Mount Pleasant, Wisc., site that was supposed to be building iPhone displays and employing thousands of people lies empty.
At the end of 2018, she writes, “The Taiwanese manufacturing giant, famous as an Apple Inc. supplier, had spent only $99 million, 1% of its pledged investment, according to its latest state filings.”
The promised jobs also have yet to appear. Bauerlein reports that while Foxconn “projected as many as 2,080 in-state employees by the end of 2019,” it had “fewer than 200 at last year’s end, state filings show. The village is still awaiting factory building plans for review.”
Meanwhile, almost 75 homes were demolished to make way for the plant, in addition to hundreds of acres of farmland cleared. City and village taxpayers in Mount Pleasant borrowed nearly $350 million for infrastructure upgrades and to buy land.
According to Bauerlein, the project involved one of the biggest public-incentive deals ever given to an international company, a package valued at over $4 billion.
Now the town is feeling the strain. “At some point we’re talking about things that are just imaginary,” Nick Demske, a commissioner in Racine County, where the Mount Pleasant plant is located, told the Journal. The town’s debt rating has dropped.
Residents are scared. “Is our village going to go bankrupt? Is our county going to go bankrupt?” Leslie Maj, a former business manager, asked during a public briefing on the project this month. “I’m telling you, we’re afraid.”
As Josh Dzieza reported in The Verge earlier this month, Foxconn is “confusing the hell” out of Wisconsin residents. In just one week in January, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, “said that the company wouldn’t build a factory, then that whatever Foxconn was building ‘cannot be simply described as a factory,’ then, after a call with Trump, that Foxconn would build a factory after all.”
Dzieza points out that the company has made similar moves in the past, promising factories in Pennsylvania, Brazil and elsewhere “that never materialize.” The difference is that Wisconsin politicians “threw a tremendous amount of money at the company and rushed to acquire land and start building.”
Foxconn believes it is living up to its promises, telling the Journal it “[stands] by the job creation commitments that we have made,” and “we are now looking forward to beginning the next phases of construction … by Summer 2019 with production expected to commence during the fourth quarter of 2020.”
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Gou is heading to the White House to discuss the Wisconsin deal. Foxconn did not comment.Wait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig
There are currently no responses to this article.
Be the first to respond.