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Foxconn’s Terry Gou Vows to Fire Up Wisconsin Plant This Year

Debby Wu

(Bloomberg) -- Foxconn’s Terry Gou pledged to begin production at a long-delayed electronics plant in Wisconsin sometime this year, kick-starting a signature U.S. project that’s expected to play a pivotal role in expanding the billionaire’s manufacturing empire.

The Foxconn founder said the factory will be up and running in 2020 and drive his company’s vision of manufacturing components for fifth-generation wireless and artificial intelligence applications, without elaborating. Gou, who failed in his bid to contest the Taiwanese presidential elections, added he will spend a lot of time in the U.S. this year and intends to send more employees over.

“I hope many Hon Hai colleagues will go work in the U.S. to help America boost manufacturing and build a supply chain,” Gou told employees at his company’s new year’s party in Taipei.

Foxconn’s Wisconsin complex, which President Donald Trump has hailed as a symbol of America’s manufacturing revival, has spurred controversy since its 2017 inception. The project once envisioned as a $10 billion investment on display panels has fallen far behind schedule and drawn fire from politicians because of lofty incentives Foxconn had wrung from local government. At one point, the Taiwanese company toyed with the idea of scaling back on the factory complex, along with a promise to bring 13,000 jobs to the Badger State.

Foxconn, whose main listed vehicle is Apple Inc. iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., has since kept its precise plans under wraps. Originally conceived as a factory to make liquid crystal displays for TVs, the company reduced the size and scope of the manufacturing center it committed to building and missed its maximum first-year hiring target by 82%. Wisconsin’s deal with Foxconn has also been politically fraught: Republican Governor Scott Walker, who helped strike the state’s partnership along with Trump, lost his reelection bid in 2018 in part because of the controversy surrounding the Foxconn project.

Read more: Foxconn Struggles to Put Wisconsin First After Subsidy Deal

To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Colum Murphy

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