Friday, April 17, 2020

Foxconn Squeezes Evers

From: Urban Milwaukee:


Foxconn Squeezes Evers

Demands $45 million from the state and for what? Probably nothing.

By  - Apr 15th, 2020 11:54 am

Foxconn’s groundbreaking ceremony. Photo from the White House.

It was back in September 2017, that the Legislature approved a deal with a massive subsidy for Foxconn. That was nearly three years ago. And what has the company done for Wisconsin to date? 
Supposedly, the deal was going to have a statewide impact, as Foxconn announced the creation of “innovation centers” in Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay. But as I predicted back in August 2018, these were simply “Potemkin villages,” glitzy sounding projects meant to help re-elect Scott Walker that would never be created. That’s exactly what has happened. The influential high tech industry publication The Verge has repeatedly investigated these innovation centers, along with a later proposed project in Madison, and come up with nothing. In April 2019, the publication visited the state and found buildings that were largely empty. In response Foxconn officials told the media the story was wrong, generating this headline from The Verge: “Foxconn says empty buildings in Wisconsin are not empty.”
Just a few days ago, The Verge published a follow-up story: “Foxconn’s Buildings Are Still Empty, One Year Later.” Its reporter Josh Dzieza found the Eau Claire building was empty “with no visible activity,” and in Green Bay, there was no building, the plans for it had been scaled down, and “no permits have been taken out, and construction has yet to begin.” In Madison, where Foxconn was supposed to have major partnership with the state’s flagship university, a “search of records for Foxconn’s property… turned up no building permits, and other tenants of the building have not seen any Foxconn employees.” In Milwaukee “the most significant permits the company has applied for are to renovate elevators and an exit door. In January, Ixonia Bank moved into the building’s first floor.”
“Foxconn has also continued to lease out its Green Bay building to other businesses,” the story reported. “Its Madison and Racine innovation centers are still occupied by the banks that were there before Foxconn purchased the buildings.”
Which brings us down to the big baby, the Mount Pleasant campus in Racine County, which was supposed to be a $10 billion colossus with 13,000 employees, the “eighth wonder of the world,” as President Donald Trump dubbed it. That was been downsized repeatedly, with an ever-changing manufacturing menu: first a Gen 10.5 plant, then a smaller Gen 6 plant, then coffee kiosks and recently ventilators. As The Verge reported: “The factory is set to open in May… It is unclear exactly what the factory will produce.” 
What is clear is that the project violates the contract Foxconn signed with the state. It stipulates that Foxconn will build a Gen 10.5 LCD plant, which it is not doing, and its operations at Mount Pleasant are being done by its subsidiary Foxconn Industrial Internet, which was not a party to the contract. 
“The project that they have right now is outside the bounds of the contract,” Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan told The Verge in December. Since May 2019 Foxconn has been “continuously encouraged” to revise the contract, Brennan noted, but has yet to show any willingness to do so.

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