Good Jobs First Statement on Foxconn Groundbreaking in Southeast Wisconsin

June 28, 2018

“Too Many Eggs in a Risky High-Tech Basket”

Washington, DC—Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy made the following statement concerning today’s groundbreaking ceremony in Racine County, Wisconsin for the Foxconn Technology Group’s liquid crystal display factory.

At $4.79 billion and counting, the Foxconn megadeal is the third-costliest subsidy package in U.S. history—and 39 times bigger than any prior deal in Wisconsin. It’s too many eggs in a risky high-tech basket.

“The state admits it will take 25 years to break even on its own $3 billion part of that. Betting that a high-tech product will even be here a quarter-century from now is like betting on modems or beepers or MP3 players.

“This deal is a monument to the ruinous state-vs-state tax-break wars the U.S. has suffered for decades, because of a lack of federal leadership. Now we have it far worse: Never before has a President blessed the ‘second war among the states’ as President Trump did in his December 2016 speech at Carrier Corp. And never before has a President actively helped a company shake down states for huge tax breaks, the way Trump has assisted Foxconn chairman Terry Gou.

“This plant—the only liquid-crystal display factory outside of Asia—appears to be a ‘screwdriver shop’ that will mainly assemble high value-added components from overseas. Wisconsin taxpayers should look at the shuttered Dell plant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It got what was then the biggest subsidy package ever from that state and barely lasted five years.

“Illinois will be the big winner in this deal. As someone who long lived in Chicago and consulted on job-retention efforts in southeast Wisconsin, I know that many of the people who will hire on with Foxconn will be Prairie State commuters.”

Good Jobs First is a 20-year old non-profit, non-partisan research group on economic development incentives. Greg LeRoy is the author of The Great American Jobs Scam and No More Candy Store.