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Biden touts new $3.3 billion Microsoft data center at failed Foxconn site Trump backed

photo of Trump
President Donald Trump, along with Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan participate in the Foxconn Technology Group groundbreaking ceremony for its LCD manufacturing campus, in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, U.S., June 28, 2018. (REUTERS/Darren Hauck/File Photo)
By Andrea Shalal | REUTERS

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled plans by Microsoft Corp to build a $3.3 billion data center in southeastern Wisconsin, drawing a sharp contrast to his Republican predecessor who had backed a previous $10 billion project at the same site that was significantly scaled back.

Biden, on his fourth visit to Wisconsin this year, said Microsoft‘s investment would create thousands of jobs in the presidential election battleground state that his campaign sees as critical to his bid for a second term.

The facility will be built where Biden’s rival for the presidency, Donald Trump, announced a $10 billion investment by Taiwan electronics manufacturer Foxconn in 2017 that the company later drastically scaled back. Trump had called it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

“I’m here to talk about a great comeback story in America,” Biden told about 200 people at Gateway Technical College’s Sturtevant campus in a Midwestern state hit by manufacturing declines.

The president said Microsoft’s investment would “be transformative, not only here, but worldwide.”

“My predecessor made promises, which he broke,” Biden said. “On my watch, we make promises and we keep promises.”

Foxconn in 2021 said it would invest $672 million at the site instead of the $10 billion initially planned and forecast 1,454 new jobs, down from 13,000 as its plans shifted and tax breaks were reduced amid local skepticism.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said the U.S. company planned to invest $3.3 billion by the end of 2026 and use artificial intelligence to boost manufacturing and help workers.

The White House said that investment would result in 2,300 union construction jobs and around 2,000 permanent jobs over time. It said nearly 4,000 jobs had been added in the nearby city of Racine since Biden took office, while about 1,000 manufacturing jobs were lost during the Trump administration.

“We will train over 100,000 people in Wisconsin by the end of the decade so they have the AI skills to fill the jobs of tomorrow,” Smith said. He credited Biden’s legislation on infrastructure, chips and climate change with laying the groundwork for the investment.

Microsoft will partner with Gateway Technical College to train 1,000 people for data center and other roles by 2030 and will work to train 1,000 business leaders to adopt AI in their operations, the White House added.

BLACK VOTER SUPPORT

After the Microsoft event, Biden shook hands and bantered with about 50 campaign volunteers from Racine’s Black community, urging them to take Trump at his word when he threatened to reverse gains made during Biden’s presidency.

Biden is seeking to shore up support among Black voters ahead of the Nov. 5 presidential election, with national polls showing him essentially tied in a rematch with Trump, a Republican making his third bid for the White House after losing to Biden in 2020.

Biden’s campaign has launched a $14 million ad campaign, including ads targeting Black, Latino and Asian voters. On Thursday, it plans a blitz on what it says are Trump’s attacks on healthcare.

In Wisconsin, Biden ribbed his predecessor for the failed investment in Racine County. “Foxconn turned out to be just that – a con,” he said.

Representatives for Trump’s campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.

Foxconn said in a statement that employment at its Wisconsin operations had grown 42% since 2020 and that it had become the surrounding county’s largest taxpayer in recent years. “We are proud of the over 1,000 men and women who work at Foxconn Wisconsin,” it said.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Nandita Bose, Susan Heavey and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Heather Timmons, Cynthia Osterman and Rosalba O’Brien

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