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UW-Madison hires former Foxconn official to lead office working with businesses

UW-Madison hires former Foxconn official to lead office working with businesses

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Foxconn UW-Madison

Foxconn executive Louis Woo in 2017 told business leaders he wants Wisconn Valley in Racine County to rival California's Silicon Valley within 10 years.

UW-Madison recently hired a former Foxconn Technology Group official to lead the university’s Office of Business Engagement.

[NFA] Major Apple supplier Foxconn may make electric vehicles at its high-profile but troubled plant in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, though could decide on Mexico, the chairman of the Taiwanese company said on Tuesday. Conway G. Gittens has more.

The hiring of John Garnetti, Foxconn’s former deputy director of U.S. strategic initiatives, comes about halfway through a five-year agreement between UW-Madison and the Taiwanese technology company that critics say has fallen far short of expectations.

John Garnetti


Foxconn officials in 2018 committed $100 million to help fund a new UW-Madison engineering building and company-related research. Records show the university received $700,000 in the first two years of the deal — less than 1% of the company’s pledge.

UW-Madison spokesperson John Lucas said the university had no update on the company’s financial commitments beyond the $700,000 received so far.

Garnetti wasn’t hired to specifically address the relationship with any single company, Lucas said. The hiring decision had no connection to Foxconn or any of his other previous employers, nor was Garnetti in an executive decision-making role relating to the University of Wisconsin System in a previous job.

Garnetti starts April 26. He will earn $145,000 annually and manage a team of five employees.

UW-Madison’s Office of Business Engagement was created in 2018 to build and expand partnerships with companies looking to engage with UW-Madison. Its previous director earned $144,000 in fiscal year 2020.

The four-month search for the office’s managing director included a “significant and diverse pool” of candidates, though the exact number of applicants wasn’t available Tuesday.

Garnetti graduated with an economics degree from the University of Florida in 2009 and spent several years working in Asia. He was named Foxconn’s director of marketing and business development in 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in late 2019.

“Well-versed in international business practices and fluent in Mandarin Chinese, his experience working with leaders in the private and public sectors will aid (our office) in its goal of growing corporate engagement that spans sponsored research, professional development, corporate philanthropy and talent solutions,” UW-Madison said in an announcement of the hire.

Keep up with the latest news on Foxconn in Wisconsin

Read more news coverage of Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn's decision to build a massive plant in Wisconsin.

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The future of Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion high-tech manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin was cast into uncertainty Wednesday after the company acknowledged the project was being “adjusted” in response to changing global economics.


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