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Amid reports questioning Foxconn Technology Group's future in Wisconsin, Republican leaders issued a statement praising the Taiwanese technology titan for the impact its project has already had in the state.
The company has said it will build a $10 billion facility in Mount Pleasant to manufacture LCD panels and eventually employ 13,000. Those figures have appeared in doubt at times, including in January 2019 when news reports said the company was backing off or delaying its plans.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, released a joint statement on the company’s status Jan. 30, 2019. They covered a lot of territory, including some we’ve already fact-checked.
They blamed new Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, for Foxconn’s waffling — which we rated Pants on Fire.
They said "not a dollar" in state funds would go to Foxconn until jobs were created — which we rated Mostly True.
And they addressed the impact Foxconn has already had in Wisconsin:
"In a short time, Foxconn has made a positive impact across Wisconsin with more than 1,000 new jobs, an investment of $200 million, three innovation centers and one of the largest gifts ever of $100 million to the UW-Madison," Vos and Fitzgerald said.
The jobs claim caught our eye.
Has Foxconn already been responsible for a four-figure bump in Wisconsin employment?
When asked for backup to the claim, Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer pointed us to a Jan. 17, 2019 letter Foxconn sent to state officials detailing the employment impact to date.
The letter said Foxconn "created 1,032 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs in support of the Wisconsin project. This figure includes 178 full-time Foxconn employees and 854 employees involved in the construction of (the Foxconn campus), who are residents of 54 counties in Wisconsin."
RELATED: See our Foxconn factchecks
(A quick aside: Those 178 Foxconn jobs were 82 short of the minimum required for the company to immediately claim the first year’s job-creation tax credits from the state. Foxconn could still make up those jobs later and get the funds, which are among the first of a promised $4 billion in public subsidies.)
So Foxconn is connected to more than 1,000 jobs, but reaching that number requires combining the company’s hiring with the temporary construction work generated by the building process.
And there aren’t 1,000 current jobs.
Foxconn said the 854 construction jobs tally is a cumulative one that counts every Wisconsin worker who has been involved in the project since it began. It’s the most recent jobs report assembled by Gilbane Building Co., the project’s general contractor, and includes work done through the end of November 2018.
There were also several dozen construction workers from outside Wisconsin.
Most of those construction jobs no longer exist, though, since the phase of construction those workers were involved in has ended.
John Mielke, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, said a project the size of Foxconn likely has several hundred workers on site at a time.
Both Mielke and Pat O’Brien, executive director of the regional development group Milwaukee 7, said 854 construction jobs sounds reasonable for a project the size of Foxconn.
Vos and Fitzgerald said in a statement that Foxconn has already "made a positive impact across Wisconsin with more than 1,000 new jobs."
That implies 1,000 people are now employed because of Foxconn, but that’s not the case.
Nearly all of those jobs are temporary, construction-related positions. Experts say it’s more likely several hundred construction workers were on the job at any given point thus far.
The discrepancy is particularly noteworthy since the number of Foxconn jobs is a key aspect of the political debate, and hiring at Foxconn itself fell short of the 260 jobs needed to qualify for a first round of state tax credits.
That makes it a statement with an element of truth that ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. That’s our definition of Mostly False.
Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald, Joint Statement: Foxconn’s Plans in Wisconsin, Jan. 30, 2019 (posted via WisPolitics.com since the original was removed from Vos’s website)
Foxconn, letter to Wisconsin state officials, Jan. 17, 2019
Foxconn, Workforce inclusion report, through Nov. 30, 2018
Email exchange with Foxconn Technology Group, Feb. 8-12, 2019
Email exchange with Kit Beyer, spokesman for state Rep. Robin Vos, Jan. 31, 2019
Phone interview with Pat O’Brien, executive director, Milwaukee 7, Feb. 11, 2019
Phone interview with John Mielke, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, Feb. 12, 2019
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