Foxconn appears to reverse course again after talking to Trump

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By Corky Siemaszko  with NBC News Politics
Donald Trump
President Donald Trump takes a tour of Foxconn with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, right, and CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi Son in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin on June 28, 2018.   -   Copyright  Evan Vucci AP file

Foxconn appears to have reversed course again, saying it will go ahead with plans to build a "manufacturing facility" in Wisconsin.

Friday's announcement comes only two days after the Taiwanese electronics giant appeared to backtrack on the deal to hire thousands of blue-collar workers for the expansive new factory. That had left President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Republicans — who had touted the company's project — embarrassed.

Trump hailed Foxconn's new announcement in a tweet Friday, saying he had spoken directly about the project with company chairman Terry Gou.

Foxconn, in a statement, confirmed that Trump and Gou had "a personal conversation" about the Wisconsin Valley Science and Technology Park that is currently under construction in the town of Mt. Pleasant.

The project garnered more than $4 billion in tax breaks secured by former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, and his GOP allies — enticements that Democrats and other critics denounced as a giveaway to an unreliable foreign firm.

Under the initial agreement, Foxconn promised to hire 13,000 workers, the majority of whom would build advanced TV screens at the plant.

But a furor erupted Wednesday when another top company official named Louis Woo, in an interview with Reuters, blindsided Trump and the other project supporters by announcing that the company was rethinking its plans. He said the company would hire mostly engineers and researchers for the Wisconsin campus and build the advanced TV screens elsewhere, because it considers American labor too expensive.

On Friday, however, the company issued the statement apparently aimed at quelling concerns with an assertion that it is "moving forward with plans to build an advanced manufacturing facility." It said that the project would include a "liquid crystal module backend packaging plant" and a "high precision molding factory."

"This campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility, as well as a hub or high technology innovation for the region," Foxconn said.

The company didn't specify how many of the 13,000 promised jobs would be the blue-collar kind that Trump and Walker had touted.