An internal report from state budget office confirms suspicions that Foxconn won’t manufacture anything in Wisconsin.
Foxconn Technology Group’s fabled LCD factory in Mount Pleasant is not “designed or equipped” to be “a viable commercial glass fabrication facility,” according to a scathing internal report from the state Department of Administration dated Oct. 7.
The report, first published by The Verge, comes on the heels of another Verge investigation that exposed how Foxconn apparently never intended to live up to its end of the historic $3 billion deal it made with the state under former Gov. Scott Walker, as it hired hundreds of employees to sit around and do nothing in an unsuccessful bid to meet tax credit requirements.
The new bombshell raises further questions as to what Foxconn will actually be doing in Mount Pleasant, but it also unquestionably puts to bed the assertion that it will eventually manufacture LCD screens as it originally promised to do.
Even as it became clear the project would no longer yield the initially proposed 20-million-square-foot “Gen 10.5” large LCD screen factory that would employ 13,000 people, Foxconn insisted it would continue putting together a smaller “Gen 6” facility to make smaller screens.
But the DOA report, produced with feedback from an LCD industry consultant, notes the current cornerstone building of the project—the one-million-square-foot Gen 6 fabrication plant, or “fab”—appears to be “more of a showcase” than an actual manufacturing plant.
The fab would be the smallest Gen 6 facility in the world if it ever actually produces anything, but the consultant—Robert O’Brien, president of Display Supply Chain Consultants—wrote it is doubtful any screens would be fully manufactured in Mount Pleasant.
Instead, O’Brien wrote, it’s possible Foxconn could ship old machines to Wisconsin to use the fab as a facility where a handful of employees might put finishing touches on products manufactured in Asia.
Such a setup “would not represent world-class, state of the art manufacturing,” O’Brien wrote.
The report confirms another alarming detail: Foxconn received a permit last month to use the fab for storage, not for manufacturing.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. told Foxconn it will not receive any of the up to $3 billion in state tax credits until it signs a new contract with the state, something the company initially proposed last year. The decision came after Foxconn missed its hiring targets for the second year in a row, employing just 281 employees eligible for credits at the end of 2019. The contractual goal for the end of last year was 2,080 full-time employees; the minimum for any tax credits whatsoever was 520 workers.
The newly revealed report says there is no “reasonable likelihood” Foxconn would meet its 2020 hiring targets because, based on past practice, the company has likely already laid off hundreds of employees brought aboard in an end-of-year hiring blitz intended to meet the tax-credit threshold.
Foxconn did not respond to a request for comment. The Verge also reports the company did not return a request for comment.