Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

It's gonna be a different kind of factory now?

When we last checked in on Wisconsin’s plans to add a Foxconn plant to the southeast corner of the state, there was a lot of skepticism. None of that skepticism has abated, despite cheerleading from Gov. Scott Walker.

The governor -- currently locked in a tight race for re-election -- remains very bullish that this manufacturing facility, which could receive up to $4 billion in public subsidies if it follows through with its contractual plans to create 13,000 jobs in the Badger State, will come to fruition.

But there’s a new wrinkle to the Foxconn development saga: Foxconn might not build the type of factory it originally agreed to build! The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week:

“In a shift from its stance of two months ago, the company on Wednesday did not offer assurances that it still plans to build the type of liquid crystal display panel plant the contracts cite.

“Known as Generation 10.5 fabrication facilities, or fabs, such plants are the largest and most expensive in the display industry. They produce very large panels, such as 65-inch or 75-inch television screens, that are cut from ultra-thin pieces of “mother glass” measuring about 9.5 feet by 11 feet.

“Foxconn’s original plans last year called for building a Generation 10.5 plant, and both the state and local agreements reached with the company define the project that way.”

The company is instead planning to build a Generation 6 plant which is smaller, less costly, and makes less expensive products. This has made some Wisconsinites very antsy.

Foxconn is saying to just be cool, man: It “is still planning for an advanced fab facility in the near future after the completion of the first phase. Whether it is Gen 10.5 or something else depends on the market and economic situations at the time.”

Hmmmm. Foxconn is playing super lose with those promises, it seems, while Gov. Walker put billions of dollars of subsidies on the line for this project. Hope those "market and economic situations" line up in time! In the meantime, we got a line and we’re sticking to it (to paraphrase Alliance for American manufacturing President Scott Paul):

We’ll be excited about the Foxconn plans when we see actual paychecks going to workers in Wisconsin. And we’re still a long way off from paychecks.