Foxconn executive discusses the dramatically scaled back project in Wisconsin #makerbusiness

A glass globe on Foxconn's campus.

The Verge has been covering the Foxconn saga in Wisconsin for years now. They recently interviewed Alan Yeung, the Foxconn executive who was in charge of the project when it all began.

The deal was supposedly quite simple: Foxconn (the company best known for manufacturing the iPhone), President Trump, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker all announced that Foxconn would build a 20-million-square-foot display factory in Wisconsin that would bring 13,000 manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Wisconsin promised more than $4 billion in tax credits to Foxconn, cleared land by pushing people out of their homes, and diverted water from Lake Michigan to support the factory. A lot of people got excited about this promised American manufacturing renaissance and left good jobs to join it.

But it turned out that while Foxconn was putting on a great show, no LCD factory was actually getting built, even though Foxconn kept saying it was happening.

The interview is fascinating case of a question dodging. If there is any benefit of the doubt for Foxconn it quickly evaporates over the course of the conversation. Taking it with a grain of salt, this is the explanation Yeung provided:

…the business condition and the investment climate changed dramatically in Wisconsin.

In the global sense, Chinese manufacturers were flooding the market with big panels because they have a lot of Gen 10.5 — or maybe even a Gen 11 — fabs coming on stream. A lot of those products were shipped based on tremendous amounts of support and subsidies within mainland China. Even the Foxconn fab in southern China had a tough time competing.

This still doesn’t explain the failure to engage with the public about the abandoned project, which the interview really drives home. Read the whole interview here, it’s worth it.

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1 Comment

  1. Oh wow, that really seemed very evasive. People in Wisconsin are largely bitter about this, as far as I know from local news, etc. Better to under-promise and over-deliver, but that doesn’t get governments beating down your door with tax credits and free things.

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