After Trump Steps In, Foxconn Recommits to Flat Panel Hub
February 7, 2019
After talks with President Donald Trump, Foxconn Technology Group says it will build a manufacturing and fabrication facility in southern Wisconsin as promised by both Trump and the company in 2017. After saying in late January that the $10-billion, 20-million-sq-ft campus that Foxconn is building near Mt. Pleasant would be more of a research park than a manufacturing facility for flat screens for televisions and other devices, Foxconn released a new statement on Feb. 1 that said it would build a Gen 6 manufacturing facility as part of the campus. A Gen 6 plant can make screens ranging in size from that of a smart-phone to a 75-in. television. “After productive discussions between the White House and the company, and after a personal conversation between President Trump and Chairman Terry Gou, Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconsin Valley Science and Technology Park,” Foxconn’s statement read. Foxconn remains committed to producing thin-film transistor LCD displays for televisions, cellular phones and other applications in Wisconsin. However, the company is still in the process of determining what mix of knowledge workers and manufacturing personnel it plans to hire. “Our decision is also based on a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation to help determine the best fit for our Wisconsin project among [thin-film transistor] technologies,” Foxconn’s statement read. How these changes affect the design and construction program of the campus is unknown. General contractor Gilbane Building Co., which broke ground last June on the campus, declined to comment and referred all questions to Foxconn, citing a client confidentiality agreement. Foxconn supplies electronics to manufacturers that include Apple and Samsung. It originally committed to creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin in exchange for a package of $4 billion in tax breaks and incentives approved by the state legislature. Foxconn said it remains committed to that number, but hiring has been slow early on. To qualify for its tax credits, Foxconn must meet hiring and capital investment goals outlined in the deal. The company fell short of its employment goal for 2018 when it hired only 178 full-time employees, rather than the target 260, which meant it failed to earn a tax credit of up to $9.5 million.