Trump to announce Apple supplier Foxconn opening Wisconsin plant

President Donald Trump will announce Wednesday afternoon that Foxconn Technology Group plans a new factory in Wisconsin, fulfilling the Taiwanese manufacturing giant’s promise to invest in the U.S.

The factory will open in the home district of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, who personally lobbied Trump and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to help secure the plant. It’s expected to employ about 3,000 people at first and, after an initial $10 billion investment, the facility is scheduled to expand over a 2 1/2-year period, according to a person familiar with the plans who requested anonymity to discuss the announcement before it was made.

Earlier reports said the plant could eventually employ as many as 10,000 people.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou plans to join Trump, Ryan, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House to make the 5 p.m. announcement.

The company has said it hopes to increase its investment in U.S. manufacturing, with a focus on building flat-panel screens. Economic development officials from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin have all vied for Foxconn’s attention. Officials with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. have declined to comment on Foxconn or even confirm that they have had discussions with the company.

Win for Ryan

The decision to place the plant in Ryan’s southeastern Wisconsin district is a political win for the speaker, who has faced questions about his relationship with Trump amid controversies over some of the president’s statements and the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. It’s also a victory for Priebus, who has seen the departure of two former Republican National Committee colleagues—press secretary Sean Spicer and press assistant Michael Shortafter Trump overruled him and hired Anthony Scaramucci as the new White House communications director.

Both were personally involved in securing the factory for Wisconsin. Ryan met with Foxconn executives on June 20 in Washington to pitch them on the state, and three weeks later, held a dinner along with Walker for company officials. Ryan’s staff also met with Foxconn executives to discuss federal programs related to workforce development and training.

Foxconn is expected to receive a sizable tax incentive package to assist in the construction of the factory, though the details of that agreement have not yet been made public. It’s also unclear what mix of local, state, and federal tax incentives would be used. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has reported that the incentives package could total as much as $3 billion.

Vacant land

Priebus had previously hinted that Wisconsin could be the winner of the multistate competition for the new factory from Foxconn, best known for its role assembling Apple Inc.’s iPhones. The chief of staff said in an interview with Milwaukee radio station WTMJ, that Trump had noticed vacant land during an April visit to Kenosha County.

"He said, ‘That land should be used.’ So when Foxconn came into the White House, into the Oval Office, the president said, ’I know a good spot that you should go to, that place in Kenosha,’" Priebus said.

And Trump, in an interview Tuesday with the Wall Street Journal, said Foxconn was strongly considering putting the plant in Wisconsin. He predicted that workers from rust belt states like New York would move to states like Wisconsin that were adding manufacturing jobs.

"I’m going to start explaining to people: When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave," he said. "It’s OK. Don’t worry about your house.”

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