Foxconn innovation centers slow to develop

While building continues in the southeastern part of the state where Foxconn is developing a 20-million-square-foot campus, progress at its “innovation centers” around the state have had little to no activity since first announced. The Taiwanese mega-manufacturer of liquid crystal display technology has done little to populate its innovation centers in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, or Racine, according to a Wisconsin State Journal story. Each center was projected to generate between 100-200 jobs, with about 500 added in Milwaukee.

In Madison, Foxconn purchased the BMO Harris Bank building at 1 W. Main St. earlier this year for $9.5 million and reportedly leases the building to BMO, but plans for a Madison innovation center there have yet to pan out. Reports indicated Foxconn wanted to establish the location as an off-campus hub and work collaboratively with UW–Madison faculty and students on research. Since that announcement was made, there apparently have been no indications of Foxconn’s Madison plans.

A Foxconn statement says the company is focusing on its primary Racine manufacturing facility, which is supposed to be completed in 2020, and that the innovation centers will follow.

Meanwhile, a 2018 partnership struck between Foxconn and UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has also been slow to evolve, according to reports. Foxconn promised the university a $100 million investment for a new engineering building on campus to boost engineering and innovation research if UW raised the same amount. In September, the State Journal reported that just 1 percent of that, or about $700,000 of the original commitment, had been paid to UW.