Earlier this month, The Verge published an investigation of the many "innovation centers" that Foxconn had announced it would open in Wisconsin. Foxconn had promoted the buildings as part of its effort to turn the state into a technology center that employed 13,000 people, with the centerpiece being a highly subsidized LCD factory in Lake Michigan. But at the beginning of April, the buildings were empty. Some had not even been bought, and no one in Wisconsin seemed to know what was going on with them.
Just two days after The Verge report Foxconn announced that he was buying another building. Alan Yeung, director of strategic initiatives at Foxconn in the United States, said the story contained "many inaccuracies" and that the buildings are not empty, but people should also not be "climbing trees" to verify, and that the company would issue a correction. soon.
It has been two weeks since the announcement and, despite repeated requests for comments, Foxconn still has to issue a correction or explain what inaccuracies Yeung was referring to.
It has been a tumultuous two weeks for the Foxconn project in Wisconsin. First, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers expressed doubts that Foxconn would fulfill its promise to employ 13,000 people in the state and said the elements of the agreement should be renegotiated. The Wisconsin Republicans quickly attacked Evers, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called him naive and accused him of encouraging the failure of the project. Yeung himself tweeted a kind of cryptic refutation full of emoji:
Calm down. Probably fake news Who has the crystal ball to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032?
Esp in April & # 39; 19 https://t.co/P94H9V6Kw6[19459005◆-AlanSYeung(@alansyeung) April 25, 2019
It turns out that it was Foxconn, not the administration of Evers, who first addressed the possibility of reviewing the agreement at a meeting last month. "Due to recent media reports, I also want to clarify some aspects of the conversation at our March meeting," Evers wrote in a letter published this week. "At that meeting, he indicated that Foxconn intends to suggest several changes to the existing agreement to better align the terms with the evolving project and the global market."
Foxconn subsequently reiterated his commitment to his current contract that describes $ 10 billion in investment and employed up to 13,000 people, but said he sought "flexibility" in the deal. At an event held on Thursday, Yeung said Foxconn was talking to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation "under the contract itself," adding that "I think we should take a deep breath and say that the tax credit is important, but not we do". Make decisions based solely on tax credits. " He refused to give details about the changes the company was looking for.
Evers, for its part, says it has not heard the changes that Foxconn will promote, but expects the company to present proposals in the coming weeks. "I'm not going to make any conjecture about what your trading strategy should be or what you should ask," said Evers The Associated Press .
Foxconn did not answer questions about what aspects of the contract he wants to alter, or what Yeung's tweet means.
One possible area for negotiation would be the benchmarks of the annual contracting that Foxconn must meet to receive subsidies. It has already lost its 2018 hiring quota, with only 178 full-time workers at the end of last year. To receive the maximum capital investment and tax credits for employment this year, you must employ 520 workers, a goal that seems very far from the current hiring rate of the company. At the same time, critics say that the subsidy levels (potentially more than $ 400,000 per job at this stage of the contract) are too high.
When the Milwaukee Business Journal asked about the negotiation process, Evers called those benchmarks "a big question".