Foxconn said it will invest $10 billion over the next four years to build a plant in Wisconsin that will primarily manufacture liquid-crystal display screens for use in TVs, smartphones and other consumer electronics.
The 20-million-square-foot factory could eventually employ as many as 13,000 workers, Reuters reported, along with 22,000 indirect jobs and another 10,000 construction jobs, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wisconsin was competing for Foxconn’s investment against six other states, the Journal reported, and won the deal after it offered the Taiwanese manufacturer a 15-year incentive package of tax credits worth $3 billion.
Politicians at the federal, state and local levels were quick to tout the news, which was announced during a White House ceremony on Wednesday.
“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity for our state and our country, and Wisconsin is ready,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walter said in a press release. “We are calling this development ‘Wisconn Valley,’ because we believe this will have a transformational effect on Wisconsin, just as Silicon Valley transformed the San Francisco Bay Area. Foxconn plans to bring the future of high-tech manufacturing to America, and Wisconsin is going to lead the way.”
The move would mark the first major U.S. investment for Foxconn, which is the No. 1 manufacturer of iPhones and other Apple products. The precise location of the site has yet to be determined.
Plans by Foxconn to build a display-making plant in the United States may have been on the table since December, when Foxconn Chairman and CEO Terry Gou reportedly talked with SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son about growing its U.S. presence. Gou told reporters on Sunday that Taiwan-based Foxconn had been considering such a move for years, but the issue came up when Son, a Foxconn business partner and head of Sprint's parent company, talked with Gou before a December meeting that Son had with President Donald Trump. Trump also took credit in December for Son’s commitment to invest $50 billion in the U.S. to create 50,000 jobs, including 5,000 new positions at Sprint.
At the time, Son inadvertently disclosed information showing Foxconn’s logo and an unspecified additional $7 billion investment, The New York Times reported. The disclosure led Foxconn to issue a brief statement saying it was in preliminary discussions to expand its American operations, but it didn’t elaborate. Foxconn’s factories in China manufacture most of Apple’s iPhones.
Some industry insiders question whether Foxconn will fully follow through with its Wisconsin plans, however. As CNN reported, the company said four years ago that it would spend tens of millions of dollars and create 500 new jobs for a new factory in Pennsylvania, but work stalled when the company reportedly decided it couldn’t secure favorable enough terms from local authorities.