No, high-capacity electronics manufacturing isn’t coming to the heartland

As I’ve written again and again, the biggest lie major manufacturers have told the midwest is that companies like Foxconn will bring jobs and prosperity to some bucolic town in the heartland. In fact, the possibility that Foxconn or any other mass manufacturer. The only exception? Apple who, obviously, can afford to pay workers a premium on its wildly expensive Mac Pro product which will be made in Texas.

Fast forward war to the end of 2019 and Foxconn’s promised factories in Wisconsin still haven’t surfaced. Wisconsin Public Radio is reporting that the company’s promised “Innovation Centers” remain as invisible as their massive factories with many of them just empty rooms in leased buildings.

Not long after Foxconn Technology Group announced plans to build a massive manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin, the tech giant began making promises to share its model for economic development across the entire state. But 18 months after purchasing its first building in downtown Milwaukee, there is little evidence that what Foxconn calls its innovation centers are moving forward.

The real problem is the potential for fraud and, obviously, the lying. Foxconn promised 100 to 150 jobs at each of these centers and, thus far, it has supplied bupkus.

Over the summer, Foxconn identified a contractor and did about $2 million worth of work on the building, mainly HVAC, said Aaron White, Eau Claire?s economic development manager.

“That?s been about the extent of it, it?s pretty minimal,” White said. “We did get a visit from four Foxconn staffers and they reinforced their intent to move forward, but they gave no indication of a timeline.”

White said the city was originally told there would be 140 to 150 high-tech and research and development jobs at the innovation center. He said he would love to see that happen, but the city hasn?t given Foxconn any incentives, so if it doesn?t move forward, Eau Claire is not out any money.

Manufacturing in the midwest is vitally important. This ain’t going to cut it. No major city in America wants the pollution and e-waste a place like Foxconn produces and there will never be enough low-paid manufacturing jobs available in those factories to solve the problem of underemployment. Those factories feature robots and skilled techs, not folks on an assembly line.

If these places want technical jobs this isn’t the way to go. Sadly, I’ll be repeating this rant over and over and small town mayors and governors will be duped again and again.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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