After $4.1 billion subsidy, Foxconn cancels plan to build Wisconsin "factory," now proposing a small R&D facility

When GOP darling Scott Walker offered to hand billions in subsidies to Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn, he was warned: the Foxconn MO is to suck up billions in public money for ambitious megafactories, then scale them back into small, largely irrelevant facilities (or cancel them altogether).

But that didn't convince Walker: instead, he got right to business, seizing and bulldozing Wisconsinites' homes to make way for the "factory," and allowing the price-tag to rise by more than a billion dollars without blinking, even as the company started to hedge about the scale of the factory it would build in exchange for Walker's huge welfare handout.

Now the other shoe has dropped: Louis Woo (special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou), who negotiated the Wisconsin deal, has told Reuters that "In Wisconsin we're not building a factory. You can't use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment."

Instead of the planned megafactory with its 5,200 blue-collar jobs by 2020, now the company proposes to hire 1,000 skilled R&D researchers — who will likely come from out of state.

But they still get more than $4 billion: so if the 1,000 jobs ever materialize, each one will have cost the state $4.1 million.

See folks, that's why you want to elect businessmen to run your governments: they know how to get real value for money!

Earlier this month, Foxconn admitted that hiring for the plant was going slowly. The company originally promised to create some 13,000 jobs in the state, but it has already fallen short of modest targets. Instead of creating a promised 260 jobs in 2018, it only created 178, making it ineligible for tax credits. The company originally promised to employ 5,200 workers by the end of 2020, but Reuters now reports that this figure is closer to 1,000.

As well as the number of jobs diminishing, the type of work is changing, too. Instead of focusing on factory work, Foxconn claims it will create higher-skilled, R&D occupations. Woo told Reuters that about three-quarters of the jobs Foxconn will create in the state will be so-called "knowledge" positions.

Foxconn may not build a factory in Wisconsin after all, says top company exec [James Vincent/The Verge]