Trump’s key project came to nothing
A key Foxconn project which Donald Trump claimed credit for has turned out to be complete fiction, according to a report from Wisconsin’s Division of Executive Budget and Finance.
Trump made rather a lot of a move to get Foxconn to establish an enormous Gen 10.5 LCD factory in Wisconsin, as part of his “making America grate again” policies. However the report said that there is no sign that the factory is happening.
The report said 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.”
If any LCD-related manufacturing were to take place in the building, the analysis says, it would likely only be the final assembly of components produced elsewhere and imported to Wisconsin. Such a project would have a vastly smaller impact on local supply chains and employ nowhere near the 13,000 workers anticipated in Foxconn’s contract with the state.
Wisconsin Secretary of the Department of Administration Joel Brennan told the Verge today that “clearly the Gen 6 that’s been discussed and built in Mount Pleasant is not similar to other Gen 6 fabs around the world.”
Brennan said the memo was an effort to consult industry experts to better understand the scope of Foxconn’s current project and its potential impact on the state.
“There was justified criticism of the [former Governor Scott] Walker administration for entering into this contract, and not really getting any outside experts for an industry that was new to Wisconsin,” Brennan said.
“This is about making sure that we can use the best expertise that we have inside and outside state government so that we can make the best decisions possible.” The report provides the fullest articulation of the state’s reason for rejecting Foxconn’s subsidy payments so far.
Last week, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which oversees the deal, denied the company its first instalment of the $3 billion refundable tax credits because it hasn’t built the “Gen 10.5 Fab” specified in its contract.
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.
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 $300 million in capital expenses at the end of 2019.