POLITICS
07/26/2017 05:58 pm ET Updated Jul 26, 2017

Trump Announces New Jobs At Company Notorious For Not Following Through

Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn said in the past it would build a plant in the U.S. It didn't.

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn will build a new plant producing LCD panels in Wisconsin that will bring thousands of jobs to the state.

“This is a great day for American workers and manufacturers and for everybody who believes in the concept and the label ’Made in the USA,” Trump said. 

“The construction of this facility represents the return of LCD electronics and electronic manufacturing to the United States, the country that we love, that’s where we want our jobs,” he continued. 

Trump said Foxconn planned to invest $10 billion in a factory that initially will support 3,000 jobs, adding that the facility is “currently under negotiation.” An administration official declined to say where in the state the factory would be built, although it was later reported the plant will be in the congressional district of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). 

Trump gave himself credit for the deal.

“To make such an incredible investment, [Foxconn Chairman Terry] Gou put his faith and confidence in the future of the American economy,” the president said. “In other words, If I didn’t get elected, he definitely would not be spending $10 billion.” 

Foxconn, best known for making the Apple iPhone, has made similar announcements before in the U.S. In 2013, company said it would spend $30 million to build a plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Then-Gov. Tom Corbett (R) personally helped craft the deal and hailed the plan in a statement, saying “Pennsylvania is once again leading the way through integrating technology into manufacturing.”

The plant didn’t get built. The next year, Foxconn announced a $1 billion investment in Indonesia. The year after that, $5 billion in India. Though the announcements caused many excited headlines, the ambitious plans never came to fruition, according to a Washington Post investigation published in March.

Neither the Trump administration nor Foxconn responded to HuffPost’s questions about how Wednesday’s announcement is different from past declarations. 

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group that advocates for favorable manufacturing trade policies, applauded the Trump administration for trying to bring consumer electronics manufacturing to the U.S., but said he’s skeptical of Wednesday’s news.

“I’ll be excited about this Foxconn announcement when I see actual paychecks going to workers in Wisconsin,” Paul said.

Gou joined Trump at the White House Wednesday, along with Ryan , Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R)

“Why do it here? TV was invented in America, yet America does not have a single LCD factory,” Gou said. “We are going to change that. And it starts today with this investment in Wisconsin.”

“This is a win-win-win strategy,” Gou said, adding he is “committed to great, great jobs for American people.”

Gou has regularly made noise about bringing a Foxconn factory to the United States. Earlier this year, the company said it was considering several states for a new plant that would make digital display panels. An administration official said the deal had been in the works for months, with talks being led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. At a speech in Wisconsin in June, Trump hinted an announcement could be on the horizon.

“Just backstage, we were negotiating with a major, major, incredible manufacturer of phones and computers and televisions, and I think they’re going to give the governor a very happy surprise very soon,” Trump said.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this month that the Racine County Board had approved a $500,000 letter of credit to the area’s economic development organization for unspecified “economic development opportunities.” 

Walker said during the White House announcement that the factory would make the region an innovation hub he’s nicknamed “Wis-Conn Valley,” a play on California’s tech-centric Silicon Valley. Walker’s office didn’t return a request for comment on where exactly the factory would be built.

Since winning the presidency, Trump has eagerly embraced any news of a company adding or retaining jobs in the U.S., sometimes taking credit for announcements that had been in the works before he took office.

Trump also publicly hectored firms planning to offshore production. In November, he successfully bullied the air conditioner manufacturer Carrier into canceling its plans to close a furnace plant in Indianapolis. The deal, which Trump touted with a tour of the plant, included $7 million in state tax breaks. The company is still laying off about 500 workers.

“One of the concerns that I have is that there have been a lot of publicly staged events surrounding manufacturing jobs but the reality on the ground is this: Carrier laid off workers and sent jobs to Mexico last week,” Scott Paul said. “We have a long way to go.”

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

CONVERSATIONS