Thursday, October 22, 2020

Foxconn is making nothing, hiring few, and the Evers Admin seems to be done with them

After blowing the lid off of any facade that Foxconn might ever have any level of significant jobs in the state with their report last week, Josh Dzieza of the Verge followed up today to tell us that the Evers Administration isn't buying what Foxconn has been trying to sell. Dzieza cites a recent report from the Evers' Department of Administration that indicates Foxconn isn’t going to make much of anything. Instead, it seems to exist more as company/GOP PR than any kind of addition to the state's economy.
A state report on Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory depicts a project gone far off course. The report, issued this month by Wisconsin’s Division of Executive Budget and Finance and obtained through a records request, confirms that the company has not built the enormous Gen 10.5 LCD factory specified in its contract. It also says that the building the company claims is a smaller Gen 6 LCD factory shows no signs of manufacturing LCDs in the foreseeable future and “may be better suited for demonstration purposes.”

The report notes that Foxconn received a permit to use its so-called “Fab” for storage, which The Verge first reported this week. Furthermore, according to an industry expert consulted by the state, Foxconn has not ordered the equipment that would be needed to make LCDs. If the building were to be used as an LCD manufacturing facility, the expert notes it would be the smallest Gen 6 in the world and “would appear to be more of a showcase than a business viable for the long term."
Because the project isn't going to manufacture the large panels that were promised when this scam was first announced in 2017, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has said that they will not pay Foxconn any more state taxpayer dollars, and hasn't come close to being worth the huge state and local investment that was given to the company before 1 person was ever hired.
The project Foxconn has pursued instead, the new analysis says, would not have warranted the record-breaking subsidy package passed by then-Gov. Scott Walker, nor required the infrastructure state and local governments have built to support it. “Taxpayers fully performed their side of the agreement to date, while the Recipients have not,” the report says. In fact, “state taxpayers have spent as much if not more than” Foxconn has on improvements to the company’s supposed manufacturing campus. The Verge previously reported that state and local governments spent at least $400 million on the project, mostly on land and infrastructure the company will likely never need. Foxconn listed approximately $300 million in capital expenses at the end of 2019.

There is no foreseeable way that the Foxconn project will employ anywhere near the number of people it was supposed to under the contract with Wisconsin. At the end of last year, it employed only 281 eligible under the terms of the contract, rather than the 2,080 it was supposed to, or even the 520 it needed to employ to get tax subsidies. By the end of 2022, it was supposed to employ 13,000 workers. And those numbers are going in the wrong direction.

Lots of photo ops, not a lot of results.
Does anyone believe that if Scott Walker was still governor that Foxconn would be held accountable like this? HELL NO! We'd still be hearing about how Foxconn would be rolling out products in a manner of months (conveniently occurring after the election), and Walker's WEDC would handed out tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars to Foxconn to keep the illusion going.

Foxconn reacted to the news of their empty buildings in a predictable manner, complaining that they deserve more cash from Wisconsin taxpayers, and threatening to take their talents elsewhere if they don’t get what they want.

Foxconn said it remains committed to Wisconsin but that WEDC’s denial of subsidies “threatens the good faith negotiations” over a new contract.

A statement the same day from Foxconn founder Terry Gou, however, struck a more ominous tone, linking the future of the project to continued state support and, implicitly, to President Donald Trump’s reelection. “Foxconn will work as a partner with those who treat the company as a partner,” Gou wrote. “Foxconn will remain committed to the completion and continued expansion of our project and investment in Wisconsin as long as policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels remain committed to Foxconn and the very important technology development goals driving the company’s investments, as President Trump has done.”
Oooh, the extra-special job creator claims that he needs us to clap harder or else he'll leave! Well, I think this video speaks for a lot of Wisconsinites these days, Mr. Gou.

There are a whole lot of legitimate Wisconsin businesses that can do a whole lot better than Foxconn, and at a fraction of the cost and aggravation. And in 12 days, hopefully voters in the rest of the US do the same thing that voters in Wisconsin did in 2018, which is to ignore Foxconn’s veiled threats, and boot out the crooked executive that signed off on this PR scam.

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