That Giant LCD Fab Touted For Wisconsin … Never Mind

October 22, 2020 by Dave Haynes

People who genuinely know the display industry, and how it works, would have looked at the big announcements about plans for a huge LCD display plant in Wisconsin, and thought, “Yeah, that dog don’t hunt.”

It appears they were right. The much-touted Gen 10.5 LCD factory that Foxconn said it was going to build in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin appears to have hit the skids.

Despite billions in tax credits and some $400 million spent by state and local governments on land and infrastructure, the Gen 10.5 plant and all the promised jobs is not happening, and there are big doubts about the prospects of a much smaller, lower capacity Gen 6 factory.

For all the shovel ceremonies and ribbon cuttings, including with Trump, the world’s largest contract manufacturer may not have much more than a distribution and storage center.

The tech blog The Verge has been running hard on this story, and another blog, ZeroHedge, provides a rundown: 

As the Verge recently reported, Foxconn has filed a request to use the site for storage. Any ‘assembly’ work that might be done at the factory would likely be late stage final assembly, which wouldn’t have anywhere near the kind of impact on the local economy that Foxconn promised.

As the memo makes clear, it’s likely that Foxconn entered into the deal as an attempt to effectively scam an American state. As the memo explains, Foxconn has engaged in hiring practices that appear specifically designed to fool the state in parting with the subsidy money: the company hires new graduates from the US and abroad in binges right before a state subsidy deadline, only to fire them all during the following weeks and months.

The company has, for more than a year now, maintained an eerie silence, refusing to engage with the state, or answer any questions from the oversight board, while continuing to lodge requests – for subsidies, or for change-of-use, or whatever else the company might need – related to what is by all accounts a “fake” factory. Only 281 people are employed by the project, according to the state, a tiny fraction of the 13,000 workers it was supposed to hire.

For its part, Foxconn is playing hard ball. It has accused the state of reneging on its promises, and has claimed that many of its Chinese workers have experienced a ‘culture clash’ like that depicted in the Netflix doc “American Factory”. Now, it appears Terry Gou has found a new way to keep the scam running a little longer: he’s promising to ramp up work on the factory if President Trump wins.

So the idea that displays could be made at a competitive price in Wisconsin was, umm, a wee bit nutty.

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