As the hoopla that followed Foxconn’s announcement of a new plant in Wisconsin fades, the details are starting to emerge about the steep cost the state will pay for 3,000 jobs.
If the plant is ever actually built.
Last week, Foxconn revealed that it would invest $10 billion in a new factory that will manufacture LCD Screens in the southeast corner of the state. The company projects that within four years, it will have 3,000 people working there. Potentially, that number could rise to 13,000 down the road.
But as the Washington Post reported back in March, Foxconn has a history of not following through on splashy, job-creating announcements. In 2013, Foxconn announced a plan to invest $30 million in a new Pennsylvania factory that would create 500 jobs.
Four years later, no ground has been broken. No plant has been built. And Foxconn has offered no explanations or updates.
The Post noted that, in general, attracting Asian manufacturers to the U.S. would require an array of incentives, tax breaks, free land, and assorted financial goodies.
On Friday, we learned that Wisconsin is prepared to offer Foxconn a doozy of a package totalling $3 billion in financial incentives over 15 years.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has called a special session of the state legislature this week to consider and adopt that $3 billion package.
That has prompted some skepticism, with the Wisconsin State Journal calling the price tag a “steep tradeoff” and noting that the “economic infusion promised by Foxconn carries an unprecedented price tag.”
But Walker seems to think it’s worth it because he apparently has even more ambitious plans. He hopes that Foxconn will be the catalyst for transforming Wisconsin into what he has started calling….wait for it…”Wisconn Valley.”’
— Jessica Arp (@news3jessica) July 26, 2017
Go ahead and groan.
The special session could be held as soon as Tuesday. The stakes are incredibly high. The legislature is controlled by Republicans, so the package should pass. But it will be telling to see what other details of the deal may emerge, and how much criticism it faces from lawmakers.
The result could set a precedent in terms of what kind of price states are willing to pay to entice overseas manufacturers to come to the U.S. No doubt politicians and manufacturing execs around the country will be watching closely to see what happens next.