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Feb 14, 201912:28 PMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

Missing the point about Foxconn

(page 2 of 2)

Still, all this effort is not enough to make Foxconn a dominant force in this market. Technological change continues to accelerate beyond the capacity of any person or organization to keep pace. AI, 8K, and 5G are each broad topics by themselves. It’s impossible to simultaneously stay on top of all three. Foxconn's resources, by themselves, are not enough. Success requires effective partnerships in order to succeed.

Wisconsin is a terrific place to build those partnerships for four reasons. First, the next wave of computing will occur around big data. Manufacturing creates over 90 percent of all data and our state’s manufacturing produces a tremendous amount of that data density. Second, we value and developed focused and effective education from our K-12 systems, to the technical college system, to our other colleges and universities. Third, we’re located in the middle of terrific research being done by land-grant universities. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio State are all in the top 20 in federal research funding. Finally, our pragmatic heritage focuses all these resources on real-world problems.

Creating effective partnerships and new collaborations is the real key to making Wisconsin successful in the future, not any new factory! Foxconn provides the opportunity for us to become a major new presence in technology, becoming legitimate Industry 4.0 and computing leaders. That leadership would improve our ability to attract new talent to Wisconsin, reversing decades of net out-migration. Our industrial base and its leadership also provide a terrific environment to leverage, pilot, and invest in this new technology. Our pragmatism makes it much easier to create collaboration on difficult problems to create effective action.

Focusing on a factory misses most of the potential Foxconn provides for future growth. There’s tremendous overlap between Wisconsin and Foxconn’s success. Those overlaps include the need for:

  • Catalyzing innovation, strong STEM education, and focused, practical research;
  • Maximizing the best talent — both through attraction and growing our own;
  • Raising the performance bar for all our organizations, busting up some of that Wisconsin complacency; and
  • Driving effective investment and improving returns for everyone involved.

Foxconn’s success is not Wisconsin’s responsibility, but there are areas where targeted investment can help both parties. Solid STEM education supports the state and Foxconn. Practical research exploring Industry 4.0’s frontier helps our manufacturing base and Foxconn make the most of new technology. We need all the talent we can find, develop, or reposition. Investments in nontraditional labor sources make us all stronger. Collaboration can make the ideas that exist throughout the state move to where they’re needed through a frictionless process. All of this makes the most of the Foxconn opportunity.

The future trends are clear and accelerating. Industry 4.0 will transform operations around the world. Partnering with Foxconn to create that future will put us on the leading edge of those advances. These opportunities provide focus and will accelerate our progress. Future healthy economic growth depends on our ability to take full advantage of these opportunities.

Hopefully, you can see how Foxconn can drive our future success much more effectively than any single factory. It’s time to think more broadly and take action. If you’re part of the public sector, identify places where interests align and make strategic, mutual investments. If you’re a manufacturer, it’s time to up your game and harness the new technology to transform your performance. If you’re a future-oriented citizen, make the most of your opportunity by identifying ways to upgrade your skills and become more relevant in the new economy.

Together, we can move Wisconsin to the top of the pack, leading the charge into the future.

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Feb 17, 2019 11:43 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Good article on how a giant foreign technology company like FoxConn can make it big in the U.S. and Wisconsin. Does not say anything why our taxpayers should be on a $4B hook for the next 25+ years.

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About This Blog

Buckley Brinkman is executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity and writes about the manufacturing sector in Greater Madison and throughout Wisconsin. He has a breadth of experience in helping companies drive growth, world-class competitiveness, and performance excellence, and has led efforts to save dozens of operations in the U.S. by finding new ways for them to compete. A Wisconsin native, Brinkman holds a business degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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