Foxconn's Wisconsin Site Will No Longer Be a Factory for Smartphone Displays, Instead Focusing on R&D

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Foxconn is once again changing plans for its upcoming Wisconsin-based plant in the United States, according to a new report out today by Reuters. Originally set to produce large television displays, and then small to medium displays for smartphones, the location will now pivot to become largely focused on research and development.

wisconsin foxconn
Foxconn intends to hire "mostly engineers and researchers" instead of manufacturing workers at the Wisconsin plant. The plans to build smartphone displays, for companies like Apple, have either been greatly scaled back or shelved completely. This information comes from Louis Woo, assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou.

Although the company has yet to formally announce this pivot, Woo says that Foxconn is "not building a factory" in Wisconsin at this point. According to Woo, the steep cost of making advanced screens for TV sets and other devices in the United States led to the decision.

Instead, Woo notes that Foxconn's more profitable solution is to make LCD panels in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished products to the United States.

Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations, Woo said. It would also produce specialized tech products for industrial, healthcare, and professional applications, he added.

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.

The Wisconsin project was announced at the White House in 2017, and was used as an example by the Trump administration of a foreign company extending its manufacturing business into the United States. Now, Woo says that three-quarters of the Wisconsin plant will be staffed by people in R&D and design fields, or "knowledge" positions, rather than blue collar manufacturing jobs.

At the time, Foxconn said it would grow to employ as many as 13,000 workers at the site. In recent weeks, the company confirmed it had slowed its pace of hiring, down to about 5,200 people by the end of 2020. Now, a source within the company claims that figure is closer to 1,000 workers to start off. It's unclear if Foxconn still plans to grow to the full 13,000 workforce, and if so when that will happen.

Tag: Foxconn

Top Rated Comments

uecker87 Avatar
26 months ago

Man, Wisconsin got absolutely screwed - last I read they were giving Foxconn something like $3 billion in tax breaks to build the plant. Not to mention they gave away the land for free and had to pay hundreds of millions to update the roads and infrastructure. I would be livid if I lived there.

Yep. I live there. Can confirm that I’m pissed.

But also can confirm that we thankfully got the idiot that signed off on this deal out of office.

Everyone except for the Walker/Trump/GOP camp knew it was an absolutely horrible deal.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applebreed Avatar
26 months ago

Hiring engineers for R&D... is this the legal way of luring technology out of the USA and mass produce in China?

I know this area very well and it's a legal way of saying that nobody around that plant that could really use a good factory job is going to get one.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ersan191 Avatar
26 months ago
Man, Wisconsin got absolutely screwed - last I read they were giving Foxconn something like $3 billion in tax breaks to build the plant. Not to mention they gave away the land for free and had to pay hundreds of millions to update the roads and infrastructure. I would be livid if I lived there.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applebreed Avatar
26 months ago
World's most expensive campaign advertisement . . . and the guy that put the scheme together didn't even win his reelection bid.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacOH21 Avatar
26 months ago
I guess it was hard to find a company that could make custom screws? :)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applebreed Avatar
26 months ago

Is there even a labor pool of R&D engineers and researchers to draw from? This sounds like as poorly a thought out idea as their previous ones.

Yeah – Milwaukee, Chicago, the surrounding suburbs of each; maybe some people in the general area but they'd still be considered part of the Milwaukee-Chicago metropolitan area, anyway. The problem for Wisconsin, though, is that the plant is close enough to the Wisconsin-Illinois border (with fast access to Chicago via I-94 and commuter rail) that the Illinois hires wouldn't feel any need to move to Wisconsin. Everyone else is already close-by.

So, basically, no new retail, real estate, or commercial business development spurred by this. Maybe some new fast food and chain restaurants to serve a lunchtime crowd, but it sounds like there won't even be enough long-term traffic for that.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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