GOP Lawmakers Defend Foxconn Amid Mixed Signals About Job Creation

Foxconn Exec's Tweet Has Some Questioning Company's Commitment To 13K Jobs

Foxconn sign
Kin Cheung/AP Photo

Republican state lawmakers defended Foxconn Technology Group on Thursday amid mixed signals from the manufacturing company about how many jobs it will create in Wisconsin.

Foxconn has said for months that it remains committed to creating up to 13,000 jobs in the state, despite confirmed plans to change what it manufactures at its southeastern Wisconsin plant.

However, a tweet from Alan Yeung, director of U.S. Strategic Initiatives for Foxconn, has some questioning that commitment.

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“Who has the crystal ball to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032? Esp in April ‘19,” Yeung wroted.

The state’s contract with Foxconn expires in 2032.

The company did not immediately return a request for comment about Yeung’s tweet.

Speaking with reporters at a WisPolitics event in Madison, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, defended the tweet as benign.

“He’s saying that a lot can happen between now and 2032 — which, we know that to be true,” Nygren said.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who co-chairs the state Legislature’s budget committee with Nygren, said taxpayers shouldn’t be concerned about Foxconn’s commitment.

“I don’t see Foxconn totally failing,” Darling said. “That’s not their MO.”

Darling pointed out Foxconn’s contract with the state include job creation benchmarks for receiving state money.

“I know there’s been a lot of political talk about it, but it has be a ‘pay as you grow’ — they don’t get paid unless they grow jobs,” she said.

Yeung’s tweet came as leadership at Foxconn appears to be in flux. The company’s CEO, Terry Gou, announced last week that he will run for the president of Taiwan, spurring more headlines about the company and his personal life.

Gov. Tony Evers has said the state should re-evaluate its contract with Foxconn, in light of the changes to its planned product line in Wisconsin. He has also said he doesn’t believe Gou’s budding political career will affect the state’s relationship with the company.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has said lawmakers will not approve any major changes to the state’s $4 billion incentive package for the tech giant.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with reporting from WPR.