Foxconn Technology Group appears to have delayed the opening of its manufacturing plant in Racine County.
In March, the tech manufacturing company announced construction on the Mount Pleasant Gen 6 fabrication facility would begin this summer and would be operational by the end of 2020.
But Thursday morning, an email sent out by the Wisconsin Economic and Development Corp. — with the subject line: "Special Bulletin: Wisconn Valley News" — updating bid opportunities, said the factory was now set for completion in early 2021.
The email also stated the company had begun pouring the concrete foundations for its "first major manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant," which will be "the first LCD screen fabrication facility of its type in North America. It will have nearly 1 million square feet of building space."
A spokeswoman for Foxconn said Thursday afternoon that there is no delay but offered few additional details. The company released the following official statement:
"Today marks another milestone for Foxconn in Wisconsin," said Dr. Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Founder Terry Gou. "The installation of foundations and footings comes after months of careful planning and preparation, which demonstrates Foxconn’s concrete commitment to advanced manufacturing in Wisconsin. We are incredibly proud of the significant progress that Foxconn has made in Wisconsin in just one year, and we look forward to continued progress towards Q4 2020."
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Foxconn's plans have changed several times since announcing its intent to build flat screens in Wisconsin in 2017 with a so-called Gen 10 plant. Foxconn said market changes prompted the company to shift to a smaller Gen 6 facility. The future of Foxconn continues to be questioned by some, particularly after the company briefly changed course earlier this year.
Long-time analyst Alberto Moel who formerly covered the Asian flat-screen industry for research firm Bernstein said this week in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio that Foxconn had been riding technology waves for many years but has hit a plateau.
"If you look at the example of flat panel TVs, it went from nothing because they didn’t exist to everybody having one and there’s no room for growth in flat panel TVs," Moel said. "And that's what is happening now with smart phones."
So far, only a single building on the campus has been completed — a 120,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility that opened in late 2018.
Moel said he believes eventually, Foxconn will build what it has promised, but it will likely take decades.
"Depending on the way the winds blow, they may accelerate, I don’t think they know," Moel said. "(Foxconn) is the kind of company that starts driving and then decides where it is going."