Just as Mark Twain once quipped, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” so too are rumors about troubles at the Foxconn facility in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. Despite the disruptions of the China Virus pandemic to a wide swath of the economic activity in America, Foxconn has continued to press forward; and the future for this project – and Wisconsin – looks bright.
In 2017, President Trump celebrated the $10 billion deal between Foxconn and Wisconsin to build one of the world’s largest electronic manufacturing facilities. In June of 2018, the first shovel was turned; and from the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2019, Foxconn conducted a massive site preparation of approximately 800 acres on the 3000-acre campus.
This involved movement of enough dirt that, if placed into one foot cubic boxes, these boxes would nearly circle the earth.
In the summer of 2019, Foxconn began to build its approximately one million square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Facility using 8,000 tons of beautiful American steel and more concrete than in the Empire State building. This type of cutting-edge facility, which will build next generation LCD pane technological devices, is, is critical to helping Wisconsin maintain its strong leadership in manufacturing – the Badger State ranks #1 in America based on manufacturing jobs per million residents.
During the Clinton-Gore through the Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden administrations, Wisconsin’s manufacturing base was under siege from the twin shocks of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Communist China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization. As more than 70,000 American factories closed and millions of American manufacturing jobs went overseas, Wisconsin, alone, lost over 46,000 manufacturing jobs while 82,000 Wisconsin workers were displaced due to increased imports.
That all changed with the election of Donald J. Trump and the president’s strong commitment to America’s blue-collar workers. It has been through projects like Foxconn – and great new trade deals like replacing NAFTA with the USMCA – that the Trump administration has sought to ensure a bright future for American manufacturing.
2,400 Wisconsin residents representing 85% of counties state-wide have helped construct the Advanced Manufacturing facility at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park within the Foxconn perimeter; and Foxconn already has hired its first 600 American workers.
Foxconn’s 100-foot tall, 35,000 square foot High-Performance Computing Data Center Globe is projected to reach completion by Q1 of 2021. , Its 296,000 square-foot Smart Manufacturing Center is projected to reach completion by year end 2020. It will manufacture computer servers and data server racks and is designed to support the ecosystem of Advanced Manufacturing.
Most important from a strategic perspective, Foxconn is also expanding its vision and business model in ways that will make it far more resilient in the global economy. In a nutshell, it’s not simply about building servers, computer chips, and printed circuit boards anymore. Foxconn’s engineers are busily working side-by-side with technologies such as 5G networks and industrial artificial intelligence in the company’s 120,000 square foot Multipurpose Building.
Foxconn has also helped step into the China Virus pandemic breach by manufacturing millions of masks. It is also partnering to produce critically needed ventilators for America’s Intensive Care Units – at least 10,000 ventilators are projected by summer 2021.
What President Trump shares in common with blue-collar America is a deep concern over Communist China’s economic aggression. With the Chinese Communist Party’s new cybersecurity laws now requiring companies operating in China to turn over their data, companies have sought to diversify out of China; and this has been very good news for Wisconsin.
If we have learned anything from the China Virus pandemic, it is that it is well past time to bring our manufacturing home to American soil. President Trump is leading this reshoring charge, and Wisconsin will be all the more prosperous for it.
Peter Navarro is assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in President Donald Trump’s administration.