In a report from Reuters this morning, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou suggested that plans for Foxconn manufacturing in Wisconsin may be scaled back again, and may in fact not include any manufacturing at all. The company had previously scaled back plans for the advanced large screen manufacturing that had been promised for Wisconsin, and said they would concentrate on technology development and manufacturing smaller scale screens. Today's news implies that even the small-screen manufacturing may never happen, and that the jobs in the state would primarily be given to tech workers rather than assembly-line workers. This is good news in that the jobs are likely to be better paid, but there will likely be many fewer jobs than originally promised.

In the interview Woo said "In terms of TV, we have no place in the US.  We can't compete."  He also stated "In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment".

This is disappointing news for those who were hoping for a manufacturing revolution in Wisconsin fueled by Foxconn. It also must be devastating to the area governments who have invested heavily in infrastructure for a manufacturing plant that it appears may be an illusion. In the Chippewa Valley it is not clear what this means for the technology campuses that Foxconn was building - is there really a need for distributed campuses thoughout the state when the primary campus appears to be greatly larger than is needed? The only good news out of this is that it looks increasingly unlikely that Foxconn will ever meet the benchmarks for the promised state subsidies, so in a sense the taxpayers are off the hook, but the contract with Foxconn also caused large environmental rollbacks for the company as well as huge investments in infrastructure that are now clearly overkill for the company's plans.

Perhaps the best comment I have seen on this was from James Rowen this morning who on twitter pointed out that in view of the fact that almost all of the twitter posts from Scott Walker since losing the election have been  photos of his lunch, it would be appropriate for Walker to post a photo of a half-eaten plate of crow.

Gordon Hintz in a recent Twitter statement : “The only part you had to get right if you were Foxconn was transparency and accountability, and I don’t think there’s anybody in the state right now who has any idea what their plans are, including Foxconn.”

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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