Foxconn to Build $10B Plant in WI, Giving Support to Trump’s Jobs Pledges

After weeks of hints, rumors, and speculation, it’s now official: Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, said it will invest $10 billion over the next three years to build an enormous plant in Southeastern Wisconsin and make electronics displays there.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and several Wisconsin politicians, including Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, spoke at a White House ceremony Wednesday celebrating Foxconn’s decision to expand its footprint in the U.S.

“This is a great day for American workers and manufacturing, and for everyone who believes in the concept and the label ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” Trump said.

Wisconsin’s jobs-creation agency said the future facility “represents the largest corporate attraction project in U.S. history, as measured by jobs.”

Taiwan-based Foxconn is likely best known for its factories in Shenzhen, China, where it assembles iPhones and other gadgets sold by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and other companies.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) said Foxconn will be eligible for up to $3 billion in state income tax credits and other incentives over 15 years. The incentives are tied to specific job-creation and investment requirements, WEDC said. “No credits will be given if Foxconn fails to invest capital or create jobs.”

According to the agency, the Wisconsin State Legislature will call a special session to debate an incentive package for Foxconn. Several other Midwestern states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, had also been mentioned as potential Foxconn suitors in the past month.

WEDC said that Foxconn plans to begin operations at the still-to-be-constructed plant, which will manufacture liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens, by 2020. The screens would go into products across a variety of industries, including entertainment, automobiles, aviation, and education. Once built, the 20 million-square-foot plant would be the world’s only LCD screen manufacturing facility outside of Asia, according to WEDC.

About 10,000 construction workers will be needed to build Foxconn’s manufacturing campus, Walker said. According to WEDC, Foxconn will begin hiring workers and working to obtain building permits immediately.

The plant is expected to employ at least 3,000 workers when it opens, according to a Bloomberg report. The report cited a White House official who requested anonymity in order to discuss the project before it was officially announced.

Ultimately, Foxconn’s facility is expected to create 13,000 jobs, Walker said. The average yearly salary of these workers is expected to be more than $53,000, plus benefits.

(The figures Walker cited during his speech at the White House, which match up with a fact sheet published by WEDC, are based on estimates from the accounting firm Ernst & Young.)

Walker said that the plant would also create at least 22,000 “indirect and induced jobs” throughout the state. Foxconn is expected to spend $4.6 billion annually on purchases from suppliers, and about one-third of that would come from Wisconsin companies, according to WEDC.

The exact location where Foxconn will build has not yet been determined. Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said on a local news program that it will likely be in either Racine or Kenosha county. Those counties, which are located north of the Wisconsin-Illinois border and south of Milwaukee, are within reasonable commuting distance for some Chicago-area residents.

Terry Gou, Foxconn’s founder and chairman, stood alongside Walker, Ryan, and others on stage Wednesday. Gou said that his company’s Badger State plant will mark the first of several in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to build a state-of-the art display fabrication plant in America’s heartland, which will be the first of a series of facilities we are building in several U.S. states,” Gou said in a press release. “Wisconsin offers a talented, hardworking workforce, and a long track record in advanced manufacturing, all of which presents an extraordinary opportunity.”

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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