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Biden Announces $3.3 Billion Microsoft AI Center at Trump’s Failed Foxconn Site

BusinessBiden Announces $3.3 Billion Microsoft AI Center at Trump’s Failed Foxconn Site


President Biden on Wednesday announced the creation of an artificial intelligence data center in Wisconsin, highlighting one of his administration’s biggest economic accomplishments in a crucial battleground state — and pointing to a significant failure by his predecessor and 2024 challenger.

At the Gateway Technical College in Racine, Mr. Biden said the $3 billion project, which will be built by Microsoft, was an example of how he has delivered on promises that former President Donald J. Trump did not.

The Microsoft data center will be built on grounds where Mr. Trump, as president, announced in 2017 that Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, would build a $10 billion factory for making LCD panels. Mr. Trump promised that it would be the “eighth wonder of the world,” and visited the site with elected officials and golden shovels. But the project never materialized as expected.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden took direct aim at the failed promise. “Look what happened — they dug a hole with those golden shovels, and then they fell into it,” Mr. Biden told the crowd.

“During the previous administration, my predecessor made promises, which he broke more than kept, left a lot of people behind in communities like Racine,” Mr. Biden said. “On my watch, we make promises and we keep promises.”

In his fourth trip to Wisconsin this year, Mr. Biden continued his aggressive campaign to paint a contrast with Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, who is in the fourth week of his criminal trial in connection with payments to a pornographic film star.

While in Wisconsin, Mr. Biden also attended a campaign event, where he spoke to Black voters about the 2024 election.

“I really think democracy is at stake here,” Mr. Biden told the crowd of about 100 volunteers and supporters. He also warned that another Trump administration would threaten his accomplishments, telling the crowd that “Trump means what he says.”

The Microsoft project is part of Mr. Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda, which has focused on bringing billions of private-sector dollars into manufacturing and industries such as clean energy and artificial intelligence. Microsoft expects that the new data center will create 2,300 union construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs.

Mr. Biden called Racine a “great comeback story,” after the once-booming manufacturing town lost the Foxconn project, and thousands of jobs, under Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden said Wisconsin had seen substantial job and manufacturing growth during his tenure. “We’re doing what has always worked in this country,” Mr. Biden said, “giving people a fair shot, leaving nobody behind, growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.”

The Republican National Committee issued a statement during Mr. Biden’s visit calling it part of his “Bankrupting America Tour.”

“Joe Biden is trying to save face in Racine County as Wisconsinites feel the pain of Bidenomics,” Michael Whatley, chairman of the committee, said in the statement. “Manufacturing has stalled, family farms are shuttering, and costs are up for everything from electricity and gas to food and housing.”

The Foxconn factory was supposed to be one of Mr. Trump’s marquee domestic manufacturing victories: the first major factory run by the electronics supplier in Wisconsin, with a promised 13,000 jobs.

Instead, the company abandoned its ambitious plans and produced only a fraction of the promised jobs, even after receiving millions in subsidies and bulldozing homes and farms to build the factory.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Foxconn defended its record in Wisconsin, saying that despite “changes in market demand and other challenges,” the company “continues to grow with its community in Wisconsin.”

Microsoft plans to work with Gateway Technical College to develop a “Datacenter Academy” that trains 1,000 workers across the state for data center and science and technology roles by 2030, according to the White House. The company also said it would expand its “Girls in STEM” program to two additional middle schools.

Brad Smith, vice chairman and president of Microsoft, who is also a Racine native, said the project represented that “we are a country where people come together, where people work together, where they address hard challenges and we get great things done.”

Data centers can provide thousands of jobs to build, but they often do not require as many people to operate. The announcement’s focus on providing training, particularly for manufacturers, reflects a central anxiety over whether A.I.’s promise to boost productivity will kill more jobs than it can enable.

Microsoft has built a tight alliance with the White House, even as it has recently suffered damaging and embarrassing hacks by groups affiliated with China and Russia. The Biden administration has positioned Microsoft as a key partner to secure U.S. leadership in the race with China to develop A.I. Last month, it helped orchestrate Microsoft’s $1.5 billion investment in G42, an artificial intelligence giant in the United Arab Emirates, to put pressure on China’s influence in the Gulf.

(The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December, claiming copyright infringement of news content related to their A.I. systems.

Karen Weise contributed reporting from Seattle.



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