Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Foxconn wobble

Is Walker's Foxconn Fever becoming Walker's Folly?

Does it really need all that Lake Michigan water, huge air pollution permits and 3,000 acres from which some people might be moved through eminent domain/ land seizure?

So Walker might want to slow down the Foxconn bulldozers and tamp down his campaign-style photo op touring as the company deals with an industry report that it will alter what's to be made at the Wisconsin plant because of supplier obstacles:
Officials with Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn are disputing a report from a top Asian news outlet that the company is changing its plans for a display-screen manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin.
The report by Nikkei Asian Review is sourced to industry analysts and others "familiar with the matter." It says Foxconn "is considering producing small to medium-size displays for Apple, carmakers and others to lower initial costs" -- a shift from its previously stated plans for the Wisconsin facility to make large-size liquid crystal display screens for TVs and other applications. 
Could Foxconn shift its WI production to smaller phone and dashboard display, requiring a less expansive and expensive factory? Stay tuned.
The Journal Sentinel reports that shifting production to smaller items would reduced the need for a plant as originally pitched, thus lowering its cost.
Nikkei Asian Review cited sources who suggested that problems establishing a local supply chain for production of large panels had prompted Foxconn to turn its focus to smaller displays such as those used in computers, mobile devices and cars.
A shift to smaller displays would lower the company’s initial costs at the factory, Nikkei said.
This is the headline on the Journal Sentinel's updated story, with Walker's office in damage-control mode referring questioners to the company's statement:
Foxconn denies report that it will cut back initial investment in Wisconsin
You may remember that Corning, a manufacturer of large sheets of high-tech screen materials, wanted a Foxconn-like subsidy deal to build alongside the Mount Pleasant project, and Walker, fresh out of giveaways that size, said 'no.'

So is the next slogan, "Corning, or bust?" Can you say that about a maker of large, breakable liquid display screens?

I'd written earlier that Walker didn't do a good job explaining Wisconsin's environmental ethic to Foxconn officials who said they were baffled by, shall we say, their sprawling, sprawl-inducing big project's mixed reception.

So maybe both Foxconn and Walker's oft-inept WEDC didn't do a good job prepping him about the realities of big-screen LCD assembly, and supplier availability - - and no doubt, next up, worker and expert shortages here.

And maybe just maybe, everyone went rushing into the deal because there was a merger of Walker's political needs and Foxconn's land and water perquisites, and neither side needed to really do a deep, dude diligence dive.

Building a less-expensive plant could lower the size of the state subsidies and trip off other changes, so as Trump would say, 'we'll see what happens.' 

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