Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Fox Con

Remember Foxconn’s new factory in Wisconsin, for which the region and state provided it billions in incentives? Jess Macy Yu and Karl Plume, reporting today for Reuters:

Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead.

Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.

“In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” he said in an interview. “We can’t compete.”

This matches Foxconn’s international expansion strategy, as reported by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, of starting with a big plan to secure incentives, and then walking it back over time to the point where the result bears little resemblance to the promise.

Back in 2017, around the time when representatives were finalizing this deal, Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now wrote a prescient op-ed for the Cap Times:

The history of Foxconn promising major investments in facilities and gaudy numbers of jobs versus the reality of what they do, or don’t, deliver ought to create more skepticism.

In Pennsylvania, a 2013 promise to invest $30 million in a new manufacturing facility remains unfulfilled. Overtures in Arizona and Colorado have produced nothing. In fact, there is a global pattern of Foxconn not delivering on promised investments in facilities or job creation.

As patterns are wont to do, Foxconn’s streak has continued.