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Daily Bread for 6.25.24: Wisconsin Tries to Leave Foxconn (and Its Misguided Boosters) Behind

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny in the afternoon with a high of 89. Sunrise is 5:18 and sunset 8:37 for 15h 19m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 84.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1950, the Korean War begins when North Korea invades South Korea.


Scott Cohn reports Wisconsin wants to be a tech mecca. After Foxconn’s broken promises, the state says this time is for real. The story comes in three principal parts: then, now, and the future.

Then:

In 2017, then-President Trump and Wisconsin’s governor at the time, Scott Walker, announced that Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn had chosen Wisconsin for a huge manufacturing and technology complex, designing and building giant video displays.

The company promised to spend $10 billion and hire 13,000 new employees for a new campus in Mount Pleasant, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee. At a groundbreaking the following year, Trump said the new facility would be “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Wisconsin pledged more than $3 billion in state and local subsidies — by far the biggest such deal in the state’s history — and Walker proclaimed that the region would henceforth be known as “Wisconn Valley.” But it soon became clear that most of that was hype.

Within months, Foxconn began scaling back its plans, citing labor costs. As the company missed hiring target after hiring target, Walker, a Republican, lost his reelection bid in 2018 to Democrat Tony Evers. Evers’ administration renegotiated the Foxconn incentive package, but not before the state and local governments spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure improvements and land acquisition, displacing more than 100 homes in the process.

Now:

There are some glimmers of hope in Mount Pleasant. In May, Microsoftannounced it was increasing its investment in Mount Pleasant. The company announced last year it would spend $1 billion to build a data center on land that had been set aside for Foxconn. Now, the company said it would more than triple that investment to $3.3 billion, and that the data center would focus on artificial intelligence, adding more than 2,000 permanent jobs.

Racine County Board Chairman Tom Kramer, who came into office after the Foxconn deal was signed but dealt with much of the fallout, said the Microsoft deal proves that all the spending on infrastructure was not such a bad idea after all, even though the site was built for a massive factory but will get a much smaller data center instead.

The uncertain future:

[Mount Pleasant resident Kelly] Gallaher bristles when people suggest that all’s well that ends well in Mount Pleasant.

“We’ve watched our village go through a few years of desperation,” she said. “One of the worst aspects is the cynicism that it has caused among people.”

She said that cynicism extends to both Microsoft and the Tech Hub.

“The idea that we’re going to put our faith in our future in one company, I think should make every community pause,” she said.

Gallaher’s response is what reasonable people can and should expect after past policymakers talked big but delivered small, when they fumbled through project after project, and bemoaned any critique of their development failures.

See also A Sham News Story on Foxconn and FREE WHITEWATER‘s dedicated category on FOXCONN.


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joe
26 days ago

Foxconn has come by some interesting times, lately. Their much-touted EV partnerships with Fisker and Lordstown Motors have both gone bust, as those companies are now in bankruptcy and headed toward liquidation.
And Apple has bailed from Foxconn, and China in general.

Karma is real…