Madison chancellor: Foxconn likely won’t honor $100M pledge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank isn’t expecting the Foxconn Technology Group to honor a $100 million pledge it made to the school nearly three years ago.

The Taiwanese electronics giant made the pledge back in August 2018, and it was promoted as the biggest research partnership in UW-Madison history. Foxconn said it was making the investment in engineering and innovation research at the university.

A public records request made by the Wisconsin State Journal to UW-Madison showed on Monday that Foxconn gave $700,000 in the first year of the five-year agreement. That’s less than 1% of its original commitment.

“I am not at this point expecting to receive that gift,” Blank told the State Journal editorial board last week. “It’d be nice. I think it’s unlikely.”

Blank said Foxconn faced some issues that were not anticipated, such as a trade war between the U.S. and China and other problems in markets where the company was operating. And that affected Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin, she said.

“We continue to work with Foxconn as we do (with) any number of other companies, looking to connect them to various resources on campus, and some of those go forward and some of them don’t,” said Charles Hoslet, a vice chancellor who oversees the university’s partnerships with corporations.

The state offered Foxconn $3.3 billion in tax incentives to encourage it to build its first factory outside Asia in Wisconsin.

In June 2018, Foxconn broke ground on its Mount Pleasant facility in a ceremony at which then- President Donald Trump called the campus “the 8th Wonder of the World.”

The governor at the time, Republican Scott Walker, who also attended the ceremony, predicted that Foxconn would transform Wisconsin just as Microsoft did in Washington state.

“This will make us a brain gain state, not a brain drain state,” Walker said.

Foxconn initially said it anticipated employing 13,000 workers in Wisconsin, but even by April 2019, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was unlikely Foxconn would employ that many people in Wisconsin and that the state’s deal with the company may need to be “downsized” as a result.

Republican legislative leaders accused Evers of potentially reneging on the state’s commitment to Foxconn.

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