The Foxconn Technology Group deal announced with great fanfare at the White House in 2017 appears to be falling apart as the company said recently it is reconsidering plans to manufacture large LCD screens at its Wisconsin plant — and it will hire mostly engineers and researchers, rather than the blue-collar workers it initially promised.
Reuters noted that President Trump touted the arrangement as “proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing,” but it turns out that Trump is no match for market and supply chain forces.
Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead.
Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.
Woo said the company simply “can’t compete” in the U.S. market “in terms of TV”, adding: “If a certain size of display has more supply, whether from China or Japan or Taiwan, we have to change, too.”
Foxconn will not be building a factory in Wisconsin, he said. Instead, the company wants to build a “technology hub” consisting of “research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations.”
Reuters reported that Foxconn still looks to hire the 13,000 workers it originally said it would, but that pace is currently a slow-go with timeframe for when the full number of jobs will be filled.
And again, those jobs will be primarily white color positions:
Woo, in the interview, said about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual jobs will be in R&D and design - what he described as “knowledge” positions - rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.