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Foxconn does damage control over Wisconsin factory

CNBC logo CNBC 2/1/2019 Sara Salinas

Foxconn says it's moving forward with the construction of its Wisconsin facility after talks with White House, according to a statement released Friday, but isn't clarifying what kind of jobs will be housed at the $10 billion plant.

Earlier this week, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, told Reuters the company was shifting strategy and would offer mostly researcher and engineering jobs in Wisconsin, not the blue-collar manufacturing jobs that were originally promised. Foxconn received $4 billion in tax breaks from the state to build LCD TV screens at the plant, but plans have shifted.

"In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.," Woo told Reuters earlier this week. "We can't compete."

The site will function as both an "advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation," Foxconn said in its new statement Friday, but did not clarify what kinds of jobs it would hire for at the site.

In a statement to CNBC last week, Foxconn also signaled it was changing its focus for the Wisconsin facility, saying "the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed."

Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing. Foxconn had said it would employee 13,000 U.S. workers at the facility.

Related video: Gov. Scott Walker: Foxconn would not be in America without President Trump


Here's the statement Foxconn issued Friday:

After productive discussions between the White House and the company, and after a personal conversation between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Terry Gou, Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. This campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region.

Our decision is also based on a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation to help determine the best fit for our Wisconsin project among TFT technologies. We have undertaken the evaluation while simultaneously seeking to broaden our investment across Wisconsin far beyond our original plans to ensure the company, our workforce, the local community, and the state of Wisconsin will be positioned for long-term success.

We look forward to continuing to expand our investment in American talent in Wisconsin and the US.

Reuters and CNBC's Ryan Ruggiero contributed to this report.


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