Foxconn and Wisconsin are renegotiating their massive factory deal, governor's letter reveals

Key Points
  • In a letter to Foxconn exec Louis Woo, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers reiterated that Foxconn approached the state last month about making changes to a historic development deal for a factory in the state.
  • The deal, announced in 2017 at a White House ceremony, was meant to create 13,000 jobs, and Wisconsin offered billions in incentives to get it done. 
  • Since then, the deal appears to have stalled out. 
Tony Evers, then-Democratic nominee for governor of Wisconsin, speaks during a campaign rally for Democratic candidates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers says the state is renegotiating its contract with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn to build a massive LCD plant in the state, after Foxconn approached state officials to propose changes in the deal.

The disclosure comes in a letter from Evers to Foxconn executive Louis Woo, a special assistant to Chairman Terry Gou and the company's point person on the project.

In 2017, amid great fanfare including a White House ceremony including President Trump, Foxconn officials and then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the company announced plans for a $10 billion manufacturing complex outside Racine, Wisconsin, with the promise of 13,000 new jobs. In return, the state promised $4.5 billion in incentives, as well as infrastructure improvements in the state.

Since then, the program appears to have stalled and the company has announced changes in the product mix at the facility. After Woo suggested earlier this year that the company was scaling back its plans, the President reportedly intervened, and the company announced plans to break ground later this year.

Republicans, who control the state legislature, accused Evers, a Democrat, of sabotaging the deal.

But in his letter, Evers says Woo talked to him — as well as State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — about unspecified changes to the deal at a meeting in March.

"To my knowledge, this was the first time either Foxconn or the State of Wisconsin has mentioned amending or changing the agreement approved on 2017," Evers wrote about the March meeting.

In response, Evers wrote, the state is identifying areas that "will enable greater flexibility and transparency as the project continues to evolve."

In a statement late Tuesday, Foxconn did not deny that it was seeking changes to the deal, but said it is still committed to the project.

"Foxconn has never wavered from our commitment to our contract with the State of Wisconsin and the creation of 13,000 jobs as part of our broader effort to make the Badger state a global technology hub," the statement said.

The company said it is engaged in "good faith discussions" with the Evers administration.

"We remain committed to continuing to work with Governor Evers and his team in a forthcoming and transparent manner, and remain open to further consultation, collaboration, and new ideas," the company said.

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