Foxconn Stands By $10B Wisconsin Project

Newspaper Said Foxconn Was Considering Shifting Facility's Focus To Reduce Initial Costs

Equipment at the Foxconn construction site
Equipment has been moved to the Foxconn construction site in Racine County ahead of planned groundbreaking. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Foxconn Technology Group says it remains committed to a $10 billion project in Wisconsin.

The Taiwan-based company reacted Wednesday to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review that said it was considering shifting the focus of what is made at the facility to reduce initial costs for the $10 billion complex.

The outlet cited unnamed supply chain sources saying Foxconn was looking at producing small to medium-sized LCD panels for Apple, carmakers and others instead of the larger display screens as originally planned.

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But, in a statement, Foxconn said the report was “inaccurate and not based on any facts.” Adding that “Foxconn can categorically state that our commitment to create 13,000 jobs and to invest US$10 billion to build our state-of-the-art Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Wisconsin remains unchanged.”

But Bob O’Brien of Display Supply Chain Consultants says the market for LCD screens has shifted in the last year.

“My company is expecting a continued period of oversupply in the LCD panel market and that may be changing some of the big business calculus,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien explained that the large LCD screens Foxconn plans to manufacture in Wisconsin rely on access to large pieces of glass.

“That glass is too big to ship, it won’t fit in a standard shipping container. And any time you’re making something that doesn’t fit in a standard shipping container, it becomes dramatically more expensive to ship.” he said.

A co-located glass factory was part of Foxconn’s early plans for the Mount Pleasant facility. O’Brien said it would have most likely been operated by Corning. Last month, state officials said they would not offer the company subsidies it said it needed to build a factory to supply glass to Foxconn.

Still, O’Brien called reports Foxconn might scale back its planned Racine County factory “the rumor mill churning.”

A spokesman for the state’s economic development agency said in an email that they are in “regular contact” with Foxconn about its “historic investment” in Wisconsin.

Officials with Gov. Scott Walker’s administration who negotiated the deal did not immediately return messages Wednesday.

Wisconsin is poised to provide $4.5 billion in state and local incentives to Foxconn if it makes the full $10 billion investment and employs 13,000 people.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:51 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, with original reporting by WPR staff.