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Foxconn in Wisconsin: will it ever happen?

Get caught up on Foxconn’s progress, or lack thereof

Foxconn, a company that manufactures and assembles some of the world’s most popular tech products, including the iPhone, announced in 2017 that it would be breaking ground for its first facility in the US. This deal famously got its start as scribbles on a napkin, the particulars agreed upon by Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker: Foxconn was going to get a $3 billion state subsidy in exchange for investing $10 billion into an LCD manufacturing plant that both it and Wisconsin hoped would create 13,000 jobs.

In 2018, that plan seemed to have been drastically scaled back, though Wisconsin’s subsidy to Foxconn had already exceeded $4 billion. Foxconn still hadn’t (and still hasn’t) built the large factory where US workers were to manufacture 75-inch LCD panels for TVs. Instead, it narrowed its strategy by committing to a smaller facility focusing on smaller LCD panels. The majority of the still-vacant 13,000 US jobs were to be filled by “knowledge workers” tasked with creating a mysterious, buzzword-laden ecosystem called “AI 8K+5G.”

Things haven’t gotten much better since then. In early 2019, Foxconn stated that it was no longer building a factory. Then, it claimed that the factory was back on track for completion, following a conversation with US President Donald Trump. Josh Dzieza, The Verge’s reports editor, traveled to Wisconsin in April 2019 to check up on Foxconn’s progress, or lack thereof.

The takeaway: Foxconn is confusing the hell out of Wisconsin. According to the report, “Wisconsin politicians threw a tremendous amount of money at the company and rushed to acquire land and start building.” Its buildings may be empty, though Foxconn refutes this claim. It claimed that our report contained “a lot of inaccuracies,” though after two weeks it hasn’t yet followed up with corrections.

This story is likely far from over, and is also likely to be an important talking point in the lead-up to the 2020 US presidential elections. We’ll be tracking every development below, so stay tuned to this story stream for the latest news.

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