Last year, Foxconn, a supplier to companies like Apple and Microsoft, announced plans for a factory in Racine, Wisconsin, a deal that promised to bring a $10 billion investment and 13,000 jobs to the area. But the details of that plan have changed in the past months, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is looking to bring employees over from China in order to staff the facility. Foxconn, however, has denied those reports.
Foxconn is reportedly finding it difficult to staff the factory, which is currently under construction, and Wisconsin's low unemployment rate is adding to the problem. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Foxconn has, therefore, been trying to convince its engineers in China to transfer to the Wisconsin facility. But the company told Gizmodo that isn't the case, and it's still focused on recruiting personnel in Wisconsin. "We can categorically state that the assertion that we are recruiting Chinese personnel to staff our Wisconsin project is untrue," Foxconn said. "Our recruitment priority remains Wisconsin first and we continue to focus on hiring and training workers from throughout Wisconsin. We will supplement that recruitment from other US locations as required."
This is just the latest issue to arise from a deal that has continued to lose support throughout Wisconsin ever since it was announced. While the state's governor, Scott Walker, initially promised Foxconn $3 billion in subsidies in order to bring the project to Wisconsin, that number ended up rising to around $4.1 billion. And as The Verge reports, residents of the state are no longer convinced the deal is good for Wisconsin or its taxpayers.
Further, the facility, first pitched as a Generation 10.5 plant that would build large TV panels, is now planned as a smaller Generation 6 plant, which requires only a $2.5 billion investment rather than the promised $10 billion. It also means the company will need fewer assembly line workers. The company has said, however, that it's still committed to its $10 billion investment and 13,000 jobs.
These changes, along with growing concerns over the plant's negative impact on the surrounding environment, have caused many to sour on a deal Walker once called a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." And these staffing rumors surely aren't going to help matters.