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Wisconsin politician: The $4 billion Foxconn deal is a total mess

Krystal Hu

One year and a half after the highly-publicized announcement of Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin, the state’s legislature has been kept in the dark about the electronic giant’s plan to fulfill its promise of creating 13,000 jobs.

“We have no idea of what is really going to happen,” state Assemblyman Gordon Hintz said on Yahoo Finance On the Move Thursday. “When they made the announcement at the White House with all the fanfare, it seemed to be a project that was going to have manufacturing jobs coming back to the heartland in Wisconsin. But what was sold to the public, what the president and the governor and others talked about in terms of this resurgence of manufacturing just simply isn't going to happen.”

Since Foxconn broke ground in June 2018, the Taiwan-based manufacturer known as the iPhone maker, has constantly revised its vision for its Wisconsin facility. It first switched production plans from making large panel LCD screens to Generation 6 screens.

President Donald Trump stands with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, center, and CEO of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, during a groundbreaking event. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On Wednesday, Foxconn said that it was refocusing on research and development rather than manufacturing, which means it will employ scientists and developers, rather than blue collar workers as originally promised. Two days later, the company did an about-face and said it will build a factory for displays in Wisconsin after its chairman Terry Gou spoke to President Donald Trump. Trump has touted the $4 billion project as the “eighth wonder of the world” and attended the groundbreaking ceremony in-person.

The company didn’t mention the number of jobs it will create in its latest statement. Some remain skeptical. “They had a history of overpromising and underperforming,” Hintz said Thursday.

Hintz said the state hasn’t paid out the incentives that are associated with employment and with capital investment, which could total to $4 billion of taxpayer money.

Wisconsin’s economic development agency, largely controlled by Republicans, is protecting the Foxconn project from the newly-elected Democratic governor's intervention, according to Hintz. Governor Tony Evers’ team has denied reports that he is trying to renegotiate the Foxconn contract.

Krystal Hu covers technology and trade for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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