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Foxconn's showcase Wisconsin LCD factory becomes aspirational 'manufacturing ecosystem'

$10bn investment now $672m, jobs promised now 1,454 instead of 13,000

Details of the agreement reached between Foxconn and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) were confirmed yesterday by Governor Tony Evers.

Foxconn's $10bn investment for the development of Donald Trump's favorite non-functioning LCD factory has been reduced to $672m.

Also, it's not an LCD factory anymore. The project scope now includes "economic investment activities related to locating and operating a technology and manufacturing ecosystem." Details of what the "ecosystem" entails were not shared.

WEDC said the new agreement sets the same tax incentive rates for hiring and capital investments as its other projects. Instead of $2.85bn in incentives, Foxconn is expected to receive $80m of tax credits over six years contingent on employment and capital investment requirements.

The new project has also reduced jobs from 13,000 at an average annual salary of just under $54,000 to 1,454. Furthermore, the deal term was shortened. Rather than ending in December 2032, it will now end in December 2025.

"The agreement provides the opportunity to be responsive to the marketplace that a modern, forward-looking company like Foxconn needs to pursue innovation. At the same time, by right-sizing the contract, our state is in a position where we can ensure that all businesses – everywhere – have the resources they need to grow and prosper," said WEDC CEO Missy Hughes in a canned statement.

The facility has received much attention as Donald Trump lauded the project, proclaiming the LCD manufacturing facility the "eighth wonder of the world." After three years, it looked to be a failure, with only 281 of the originally promised 13,000 employees onsite. Investigations revealed bored and abused employees in dilapidated buildings.

In 2019, Foxconn said making TVs in the US was unprofitable and pondered using the facility for R&D instead. Later they mused about using Mount Pleasant for electric vehicles. Foxconn said the project was affected by supply chain issues.

As for the new agreement, WEDC said that if terms are not kept, the state can recover 100 per cent of incentives paid each year. ®

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