The Verge's Josh Dzieza continues his outstanding coverage of Foxconn's shell-game in Wisconsin, where the company — promised billions in subsidies and tax-breaks by former governor Scott Walker, a Koch darling, and by Trump, who used Foxconn's promise of a major new Wisconsin factory to claim his policies were working — has lived up to its reputation for overpromising and underdelivering by absorbing billions in subsidies but never delivering on promised jobs.
Foxconn keeps waffling on whether they'll build a factory at all (there's absolutely no reason to build giant LCD panels in Wisconsin) and most recently, they tried to diffuse criticism by buying a bunch of buildings around the state and declaring that they would be "innovation centers" (a term that seems to variously mean "co-working space," "incubator," "accelerator," and "commercial real-estate we'll rent to just about anyone for any purpose).
As of a month ago, all of these buildings were empty.
Dzieza called Foxconn out on their empty "innovation centers" and they told him that the centers were about to be filled with vigorously innovating Wisconsinites who would justify the billions that the state was handing over the Chinese company — finally making up for all the residents who had their homes taken away at pennies on the dollar and knocked down to make way for the (still nonexistent) factory.
A month later, the buildings are still empty.
What's more, Foxconn's promised acquisition of more buildings turns out to be a lie, too (though given that these buildings would doubtless be sitting empty, this is something of a mixed blessing) ("the food here is terrible and the portions are so small!").
Finding out whether Foxconn will ever fulfill any of its promises is turning out to be hard because the company has colluded with state officials to label all its plans "trade secrets."
At the event announcing the Madison project, Foxconn's Alan Yeung said the innovation centers were "not empty," which prompted laughter from the crowd. Yeung also said The Verge's story contained "a lot of inaccuracies" and that the company would issue a correction soon. He did not say what those inaccuracies were, and Foxconn never issued a correction, nor has it responded to repeated requests to clarify Yeung's statement.
One month after Yeung's comments and promise of a correction, every innovation center in Wisconsin is still empty, according to public documents and sources involved with the innovation center process. Foxconn has yet to purchase the Madison building Yeung announced, according to Madison property records. No renovation or occupancy permits have been taken out for Foxconn's Racine innovation center, though a permit has been taken out for work on the roof of another property Foxconn bought for "smart city" initiatives. There has been no activity in Foxconn's Green Bay building, either.
One month ago, Foxconn said its innovation centers weren't empty — they still are [Josh Dzieza/The Verge]