Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), which assembles Apple Inc’s iPhones and other electronics, is considering building a plant in Wisconsin that could employ thousands of people and give Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker a huge political boost as he prepares to run for re-election.
A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly on Wednesday said that the state is in talks with Foxconn Technology Group (富士康), as Hon Hai is known outside of Taiwan.
In a statement, Hon Hai yesterday said it is engaged in discussions with officials at various levels of government regarding its US investments and would only announce an investment plan after it has received approvals from the company’s board and the relevant authorities.
At least one other upper Midwest state, Michigan, is also pursuing the plant.
US President Donald Trump alluded to negotiations with an unspecified company during a visit to Milwaukee on Tuesday, saying Walker might get “a very happy surprise very soon.”
“We were negotiating with a major, major incredible manufacturer of phones and computers and televisions,” Trump said.
Hon Hai assembles smartphones and other devices for Apple Inc, Sony Corp, BlackBerry Ltd and other brands — mostly in China, where its plants employ about 1 million people.
Walker’s administration deferred comment to the state’s chief economic development agency.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation spokesman Mark Maley said the agency does not comment on pending or potential opportunities.
“It would be great for Wisconsin for a lot of reasons,” Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still said, adding that Wisconsin is already home to similar electronic manufacturers.
“I am assuming Foxconn was attracted by the fact there’s already a skilled workforce here and there’s a foundation to produce more such workers through the tech colleges and the other parts of the education system,” Still said.
Hon Hai in January announced that it was considering investing US$7 billion in a US factory to produce display panels, creating as many as 50,000 jobs.
The company purchased Japan’s Sharp Corp last year.
Walker made a brief, previously unannounced trip to Japan the weekend of June 2 to pursue an undisclosed economic development opportunity.
That same weekend, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was also in Japan.
Snyder has been increasing pressure on Michigan lawmakers to approve tax incentives for large-scale business expansions in the state as it tries to convince Hon Hai to locate in his state.
Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof this week said in advocating for the incentives to lure Hon Hai that “we should put our best foot forward so that we don’t lose all of it or part of it to a neighboring state.”
Wisconsin state Representative Joel Kleefisch, a Republican, on Wednesday said that he would “jump at the chance” to work with the Walker administration to pass any economic development incentives deemed necessary to land the Hon Hai plant.
Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) in January said that a decision would depend on factors including whether a state where the factory might be built would be willing to provide low-cost land or power.
He also said Pennsylvania was a leading candidate, but that the company was in discussions with other states.
A Hon Hai partner, Softbank chief executive officer Masayoshi Son, said after a meeting with then-president-elect Trump in December last year that the company was considering a US$7 billion investment in the US.
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