Fri | Sep 22, 2017

$10b Foxconn Wisconsin plant largest development in state history

Published:Friday | July 28, 2017 | 7:00 AM
Staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in Shenzhen, China where Apple's iPhones are made.

United States President Donald Trump says that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10-billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

The announcement on Wednesday comes at a critical juncture for a Trump administration that pledged to generate manufacturing jobs but has struggled to deliver results as quickly as the president promised. Trump's plans for health care and tax cuts face a murky future

in Congress, while his administration is bogged down by an investigation into Russia's possible ties with his presidential campaign.

In a White House speech, Trump said the financial commitment by Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was a direct result of his electoral win.

"If I didn't get elected, he definitely would not be spending $10 billion," Trump said. "We are going to have some very, very magnificent decades."

But the decision to build the plant in Wisconsin also stemmed from $3 billion in state economic incentives over 15 years if Foxconn invests $10 billion in the state and ultimately adds 13,000 jobs. The incentives would only be awarded if Foxconn creates the jobs and pays an average salary of nearly $54,000.

Wisconn Valley

The Wisconsin factory, scheduled to be open by 2020, would be massive. The campus, dubbed 'Wisconn Valley', would cover nearly 1.6 square miles and be three times the size of the Pentagon.

Foxconn's plant will produce liquid-crystal display panels, or LCDs, that are used in televisions and computer screens. The factory will be located in the congressional district of House Speaker Paul Ryan. It would mark a substantial gain for a state

that currently has 472,000 manufacturing jobs and is still recovering from factory layoffs - including the closure of a General Motors plant in Ryan's hometown - that hit after the 2008 financial crisis.

Taiwan-based Foxconn is perhaps best known for assembling Apple iPhones in China. The company noted in a statement that having the Wisconsin factory would help it better serve the major US technology companies that are its clients.

Inside the White House, discussions with Foxconn about opening a US plant were led over several months by Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and the president's son-in-law, and Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president on technology initiatives. The president had met personally with Gou, who on Wednesday complimented Trump's leadership at the event by saying, "Mr President, the eagle flies."

Seven states had competed for the Foxconn plant. By awarding the plant to Wisconsin, Foxconn would appear to be giving a victory to both Trump and the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, who is up for re-election next year.

Other states that vied for the plant were Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Foxconn said in a release that the announcement was just the first of several investments the company will be making in the US.

- AP