Foxconn's failed 'innovation centers' are its latest broken promise to Wisconsin workers


Trump and former Gov. Scott Walker claimed the Foxconn deal would create thousands of jobs. It hasn't.

The latest version of the Foxconn deal, an expensive project pushed by both Donald Trump and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, seems to be dead.

Trump touted Wisconsin's partnership with Foxconn as the "eighth wonder of the world," but instead, it's been nothing but a pile-up of poorly executed ideas and broken promises. Now, the company's most recent plan, in which it said it would build a series of "innovation centers," looks to be as nonexistent.

The innovation centers were already vastly less than what Foxconn agreed to build in Wisconsin. The original plan was for a factory that would make LCD televisions and would ultimately provide 13,000 jobs to a struggling part of the state. However, even if those 13,000 jobs had materialized, Wisconsin gave the company so many incentives and tax breaks it would have paid over $230,000 for each $54,000 job promised by Foxconn.

Then, the company admitted it wasn't going to be creating 13,000 jobs, dropping the estimate to a far smaller 1,500 jobs and saying it wouldn't build a factory at all, instead promising a high-tech research facility, which also doesn't seem to have materialized.

Enter the innovation centers.

Foxconn originally said these would be a complement to the 13,000-job factory. After the factory plans disappeared, the company said it would still keep the innovation centers — five locations around the state that would have added up to roughly 1,500 jobs at most.

It turns out those jobs weren't real either and the innovation centers don't exist.

The company did purchase a couple of buildings and even spent some money on installing an HVAC system in a building in Eau Claire. But that's about it. Now Foxconn is back to saying it is focusing on the factory site in Mount Pleasant. Never mind the fact that the company already said it wouldn't be producing the LCD panels that were supposed to be made in that factory.

Now, the factory might make automated coffee kiosks instead.

Local officials are still holding out hope, despite the dwindling deal. "Foxconn is focusing on the (Mount) Pleasant campus," a spokesperson for the Racine mayor's office told Wisconsin Public Radio. "Should an innovation center in the city get up and running there would certainly be a grand opening event."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.