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mmmirele10/19/2020 9:36:33 am PDT

If you thought Foxconn’s con with Trump and Scott Walker was a con, well, then, you’ve been vindicated. Here’s the talking points:

Key Findings
* Foxconn said it would build a 20 million-square-foot LCD complex. Instead, it constructed an empty building 1/20th that size it calls the “Fab.” Records show Foxconn recently changed the intended use of the building from manufacturing to storage.

* The company said it would aim to employ 5,200 people at the end of 2020, a number that was to grow to the promised 13,000 jobs. At the end of 2019, Wisconsin found Foxconn employed only 281 people eligible under the terms of the contract.

* Foxconn attempted to exploit a loophole in its contract with the state by hiring a sufficient number of employees to receive subsidies just before the end of the year. Employees were hired with no actual work to do. Many were laid off after the deadline passed.

* One recruiting program targeted foreign recent graduates on student visas. Employees say these workers were targeted because they would work longer hours for lower pay, and their immigration status was used as leverage.

* Employees describe a toxic workplace, where supervisors often berated and publicly humiliated employees. Many of the original Wisconsin hires have quit or been laid off.

* Despite publicly insisting it was building an LCD factory, as early as 2018, Foxconn employees had been asked to figure out a business plan for the company in Wisconsin.

* Foxconn’s search for a viable business led it to consider everything from fish farming to exporting dairy to renting storage space. Almost every idea collapsed in corporate infighting and a reluctance to spend money.

* Very little manufacturing ever occurred with the Foxconn project. Recently, the company set up a small manufacturing line for servers.

* Foxconn raced to finish buildings and set up an assembly line in time for a visit from Trump during the 2020 campaign. It obtained a temporary occupancy permit for the empty factory building and tried to finish a glass sphere, which had no clear business purpose, before falling behind.

And the result:

That illusion has had real costs. State and local governments spent at least $400 million, largely on land and infrastructure Foxconn will likely never need. Residents were pushed from their homes under threat of eminent domain and dozens of houses bulldozed to clear property Foxconn doesn’t know what to do with. And a recurring cycle of new recruits joined the project, eager to help it succeed, only to become trapped in a mirage.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this, where a government lures in a huge company and huge company promises the moon and what’s left is a shell of a building and a lot of lost tax dollars. But wow, this is just…wow.