Josh Dzieza, reporting for The Verge: It’s been exactly one year since President Trump pushed a golden shovel into a field in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, breaking ground on a planned Foxconn factory he called “the eighth wonder of the world.” “This is one of the great deals, ever,” he said at the ceremony. The proposed facility would employ more than 13,000 Wisconsin workers and manufacture high-resolution LCD screens. And it would be huge, he said. “Think of it: more than 20 million feet, and that’s probably going to be a minimal number,” he claimed. The factory, Trump said, was evidence he was bringing manufacturing back to the United States, “restoring America’s industrial might.”
But Foxconn’s plans were already shrinking. When then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wooed the company to the state with a subsidy package that came to total $4.5 billion, Foxconn had agreed to build a “Generation 10.5” facility that manufactured 75-inch LCD screens. But days before Trump’s groundbreaking, the company acknowledged it would build a much smaller “Gen6” LCD factory, a type that makes smaller screens and requires far fewer workers. It would be the first of many changes. The last year has seen the factory shrink, get canceled, reappear, and undergo other shifts chronicled below. Even now, as concrete is finally being poured, it’s unclear what exactly Foxconn is building in Mount Pleasant. Industry experts shown Foxconn’s building plans say it does not appear to even be the scaled-down Gen6 LCD factory. If the last year is any guide, the whipsawing is far from over.