Foxconn's much-vaunted plan to build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin is on the ropes, with the company looking to use the campus purely for research and development instead.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known as Foxconn, began negotiating for a new US manufacturing facility for its display panels in 2014 but didn't announce its decision to invest $10 billion to site it in Wisconsin until July 2017 - upon which US President Donald Trump immediately took credit, claiming that 'if I didn't get elected, he [Terry Gou, company founder and chief executive] definitely wouldn't be spending $10 billion.'
Foxconn's plans, though, appear to be in flux, according to statements made by Gou's assistant Louis Woo to Reuters this week. Following news that the company had already scaled back its plans from the production of large-scale LCD panels for the TV market to smaller-scale panels for laptops, tablets, and smartphones, Woo suggests that little manufacturing may take place at all. Instead, the company's latest plan would be to turn the facility into a 'technology hub' primarily focused on research and development, packaging, and assembly, with some small-scale production of specialised products for industrial and medical markets.
'In Wisconsin we're not building a factory,' Woo told the outlet. 'You can't use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment.'
Such a shift in plans - made after the company had already agreed funding and incentives from the US government for a manufacturing facility - would have a knock-on affect on the number of employees Foxconn plans to hire: While Foxconn has suggested that it still plans to create 13,000 jobs overall, the company has confirmed that its original promise to hire 5,200 people by 2020 has been cut back to around 1,000, with around three quarters being skilled R&D and design positions rather than manufacturing positions.