Tech by VICE

Wisconsin Is Fighting to Renegotiate Its Foxconn Deal

Foxconn’s controversial plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin has faced resistance from the beginning. Now, Governor Evers is calling on the tech-manufacturing company to renegotiate.

by Caroline Haskins
Apr 19 2019, 5:03pm

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers said Wednesday that he intends to renegotiate the terms of the state’s deal with electronics manufacturer Foxconn, which promised to build a $10 billion LCD screen manufacturing plant in the small Wisconsin town of Mount Pleasant in 2017.

“The present contract deals with a situation that no longer exists, so it’s our goal to make sure that the taxpayers are protected and environmental standards are protected,” Evers told reporters in his office, according to the New York Times. “We believe we need to take a look at that contract and see if it needs to be downsized as a result.”

In response to Evers, Foxconn representatives told Reuters that the company “remains committed” to the contract.

The deal between Foxconn and Wisconsin—which was negotiated by former Republican governor Scott Walker, Mount Pleasant representatives including Village President Dave DeGroot, and President Donald Trump—involved giving Foxconn $4.5 billion in tax incentives and developing over 3,000 acres of farmland acquired through land buy-outs from 60 households. In return, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou promised local stakeholders that the company would provide 13,000 jobs and feed millions of dollars into the local economy.

Trump once called the possible Foxconn facility an “eighth wonder of the world” in the making. But the Foxconn-Wisconsin deal has been fraught with problems and resistance from the beginning.

As documented by Reply All, many local activists and stakeholders in Mount Pleasant were either skeptical or resistant to the plan from its inception. They argued that a major facility would uproot the village economy, that stakeholders were absent from negotiations, that the land buy-outs victimized the village’s vulnerable residents.

The facilities were also projected to drain excess of 7 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan, prompting demonstrations in the region in July 2018.

Then, in February reports alleged that the facility’s construction, which was already underway, was on hold. Construction resumed (if it was actually halted in the first place, which remains unclear) but with a major change to the original contract: the Mount Pleasant facility will now be manufacturing small LCD screens in a what’s known as a Gen. 6 facility, not the promised 75-inch LCD screens for TVs in a more robust Gen. 10 facility.

Evers has been skeptical of the Foxconn deal since before he entered the office of the governor. He once called the deal a “lousy investment,” and he even campaigned with the promise of reviewing air-quality regulations to protect the Mount Pleasant region.

It’s unclear whether Evers can actually renegotiate the terms of the Mount Pleasant deal. But when the deal was negotiated over two years ago, the terms of the deal weren’t public. Now that they are, Evers and local residents are fighting for a re-do.