Saturday, October 26, 2019

More Foxconn fraud - lots of empty buildings, not many jobs

This week, we got even more evidence that Foxconn isn't doing much in Wisconsin. This time it happened as Wisconsin Public Radio's Corinne Hess talked to cities around the state that were supposed to house Foxconn "innovation centers", but so far have had next to nothing happen.
Not long after Foxconn Technology Group announced plans to build a massive manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin, the tech giant began making promises to share its model for economic development across the entire state. But 18 months after purchasing its first building in downtown Milwaukee, there is little evidence that what Foxconn calls its innovation centers are moving forward.

In addition to Milwaukee, innovation centers have been announced in Green Bay, Eau Claire, Racine and Madison. Development directors in those cities say Foxconn now appears to be focused on its main manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant.
The Eau Claire and Milwaukee buildings are still largely empty, the building Foxconn purchased on the Capitol Square in Madison last year hasn't had anything done to it, and Green Bay's alleged innovation center is also vacant.
Kevin Vonck, Green Bay’s development director, said early on Foxconn was meeting with contractors, but plans have been paused. The company is now planning to start interior construction in 2020, Vonck said.

"I think they are re-evaluating their strategy throughout the state and their focus is on southeastern Wisconsin," Vonck said. "They are also seeing how this location correlates with each of the innovation centers throughout the state."

When the Green Bay project was originally announced, Foxconn said it would open by late 2018. Vonck said he would like for it to move faster, but understands development of any kind has fits and starts.

Gee, who could have seen that Foxconn's promises from this time last year of outstate jobs wouldn't happen? Well, a lot of people, and especially Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee. Murphy recognized as early as July 2018 that these proposed innovation centers weren't anything other than an attempt to give positive PR to Scott Walker's flailing re-election campaign, which was being dragged down as Foxconn was seen as a boondoogle by much of the state.
But the news from the polls continued to be negative. The MU poll in March 2018 found that while 57 percent of registered voters statewide believed the Foxconn plant would benefit the greater Milwaukee area, only 25 percent felt the businesses where they live would benefit from the project. Fully 66 percent said their local businesses wouldn’t benefit.

Clearly Walker still needed help with this issue and Foxconn was soon riding to the rescue. In June Foxconn announced it would be buying a six-story building in Green Bay to create another “innovation center” which will employ more than 200 engineers. When this would happen wasn’t specified (“later this year”, the company said), but Gov. Walker was on hand to declare that this new center would extend Foxconn’s footprint to “northeastern Wisconsin.”
And Murphy saw what was coming for 2019.
No doubt there are potential employees and suppliers to be found in other parts of the state, but are we living in the age of plank roads and mule teams? Or are these potential partners too shy to use computers, email and cell phones or simply drive along those highway connections to Foxconn’s massive Racine campus that we taxpayers are financing. Why must the company instead create satellite connections all over Wisconsin in order to coax these elusive workers and companies from getting aboard the gravy train of the most publicly subsidized foreign company in American history?

Given the massive subsidy Foxconn is getting, it can probably afford to throw a little money at Eau Claire and Green Bay, even if those satellite centers are completely unnecessary. And Foxconn has every incentive to ensure that Walker wins reelection, given that all eight Democratic candidates for governor have condemned the deal and one, Matt Flynn, has promised to fight the deal in court. Foxconn, moreover, has a long history of backing out of projects it announces. If it could back out of deals in India, Vietnam, Brazil and Pennsylvania, why can’t it walk away from Eau Claire and Green Bay? It can merely explain, a couple months after the November election, that economic conditions have changed, or that it is having no problem getting the suppliers and employees it needs for its Racine plant, and so it won’t need those political outposts — sorry, innovation centers — that helped reelect their generous benefactor.

It's been a common theme for us liberals in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan.

Nick Statt of The Verge (who has been all over the Foxconn absurdity in a series of article) noted that even 2 years after the Fox-con was announced and passed into law, we still have little idea what's actually going to be done in Racine County.
Beyond the halted innovation centers, Foxconn’s general Wisconsin plans are similarly in flux. The company announced a partnership in September with an automated coffee kiosk company to help manufacture its product domestically, with plans to add the coffee kiosk to its manufacturing contracts for the planned Mount Pleasant factory.

But the factory doesn’t exist yet. The company is now aiming to open it in 2020 after repeatedly shifting its deadlines. It’s also reduced the planned number of jobs and the size of the factory from the original 13,000 jobs and 20 million square feet to a 1,500-employee, 1-million-square foot facility that will no longer produce the promised big-screen LCD TVs that were part of the initial contract. Earlier this month, the company announced, scrapped, and then re-announced plans to build a giant, nine-story glass orb that would serve as a data center.
So it's back...for now.

So two years after people were driven off their land and state and local taxpayers have shelled out more than $1 billion to fix up roads and other infrastructure in Racine County, we only have a handful of jobs, and no long-term idea what's going to happen at Foxconn.

Oh, but don't you worry, because a day after that WPR article appeared showing that the "innovation centers" were empty BS, Foxconn claimed it was going to fix up its Racine Innovation Center.
The City of Racine issued a permit to Foxconn Technology Group on Thursday for remodeling in a building the company has said will host one of its "innovation centers."

Foxconn filed an application for the permit Tuesday, a city spokesman said.

The plans call for building out a vacant area of the first floor of the building at 1 Main St., which Foxconn bought early this year for $6.25 million. The project would include construction of a conference/training space, a reception area, a small office and restrooms.

The space to be remodeled covers 1,451 square feet, the plans indicate. A little more than a year ago, Foxconn had announced it wanted proposals to remodel a 20,500-square-foot area. The firm said then that its goal was "to occupy the finished space in January 2019, or as soon as possible."
Finished in January 2019, eh? Think they missed the deadline on that one.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Racine had the highest unemployment rate in Wisconsin last month, at 5%, and that Racine County's unemployment rate has risen by 0.8% in the last 12 months? You guys still going to believe your Taiwanese saviors are coming? Or are you going to stop being SUCKERS and make Robbin' Vos and the other local hacks pay a price for what wasted 2 years on while likely bankrupting your communities in the coming years?

Tamarine Cornelius of Kids Forward said it well on how much of a missed opportunity this state has had because Scott Walker and Donald Trump were so desperate to get headlines as "job creators."


  1. This fiasco should be rubbed in Scott Fitzgerald's face every day he campaigns for Jim Senselessbrain's seat in the House.

    1. And especially hammer Tom Tiffany up North for this in WI-7. Tiffany even said he wants a federal balanced budget amendment, but voted to spend huge amounts of state tax dollars on this boondoggle that has done ZERO for the 715.

  2. This is from MAL of "Mal Contends", but he put it in the wrong post, so I'm putting it here.

    "Gov Tony Evers (D) has the authority to change policy re Foxconn contract, politically challenge Foxconn deception, and stand up as though Evers were possessed of a spine. If Walker were gov, you would not and did not hesitate to call out Walker's machinations and name the names. But your analyses this year, brilliant and needed, omit mention of Tony Evers, presumably because Gov Mush has a D in parans next to his name. Such allegiance to a Party which is as bad on Foxconn as the Republicans is blinding, and employed writ-large guarantees a bad outcome."

    1. I think MAL is mostly right here. It's well past time to pull the plug on this, and Evers shouldn't be trying to renegotiate the Fox-con. Instead, he should sue the company for lying about a project that led to major taxpayer dollars in investment for something that won't happen.

      I just hope that Foxconn doesn't hire enough holiday workers by the end of the year so they get to the 520 employees they need to write off 15% of their construction costs, and 17% of their salary costs.

    2. Thx for fixing my error. Dems will continue to cower before corporate money, explaining in part why we have the lunatic in the White House.

  3. Let me also direct you to James Rowen summarizing 2 years of the Foxconn Flop in The Political Environment. It includes all of the BS and changing promises that have happened over the last 24 months.

  4. It IS time to kill the FoxConn Fiasco.

    An article by John Peacock over at the Wisconsin Budget Project lists the many ways in which Walker and the state GOP's "deal" can, if it isn't doing so already, fail horribly, leaving the state with nothing to show for all the taxpayer money it shoveled at the Taiwanese Hucksters.

    The Significant Risk of Not Breaking Even on Foxconn Subsidies, by Jon Peacock
    August 17, 2017 Wisconsin Budget Process

    and see also

    Five Key Things to Know about the Foxconn Contract
    Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 1:49 PM by Jon Peacock