Wisconsin tells Foxconn no tax credits without new deal

Wisconsin has told Foxconn Technology Group that it won’t qualify for billions of dollars in state tax credits unless it strikes a new deal for a scaled-back factory complex

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin told Foxconn Technology Group on Monday that it won’t qualify for billions of dollars in state tax credits unless it strikes a new deal for a scaled-back factory complex.

After the deal was signed, Foxconn said it was downsizing the factory to what is known as a Generation 6 plant rather than a Generation 10.5 plant. The facility envisioned now would make smaller thin-film transistor liquid crystal display screens for cellphones and other devices, rather than the larger screens that were first proposed.

The letter sent Monday from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Melissa Hughes confirmed that from the state’s perspective, Foxconn’s new factory can’t get state tax credits unless the original contract is changed.

Foxconn officials said in a statement that the company has hired more than 520 people and invested $750 million in the state, and has been a willing participant in talks over terms of a new agreement.

“WEDC’s determination of ineligibility during ongoing discussion is a disappointment and a surprise that threatens good faith negotiations,” the company said.

Hughes said in the letter to Jay Lee, the vice chairman of Taiwan-based Foxconn, that “Foxconn’s activities and investments in Wisconsin to date are not eligible for credit.”

“As we have discussed numerous times, markets, opportunities and business plans can and often need to change,” Hughes said in the letter. “I have expressed to you my commitment to help negotiate fair terms to support Foxconn’s new and substantially changed vision for the project.”

The state, in a separate communication, told Foxconn that because the company is not building the factory envisioned in the contract, the state can’t calculate job creation or capital investment tax credits.

“Once Foxconn is able to provide more accurate details of the proposed project, such as its size, scope, anticipated capital investment, and job creation, WEDC would be able to offer support for the project with tax incentives as it does for many large and small Wisconsin businesses,” Hughes wrote.

State Rep. Gordon Hintz, the Democratic minority leader and a longtime critic of the project, said the announcement “cements Foxconn’s legacy in Wisconsin as one of broken promises, a lack of transparency, and a complete failure to create the jobs and infrastructure the company touted in 2017.”