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Michigan loses out to Wisconsin on Foxconn

Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Terry Gou

Washington — Michigan missed out on 13,000 jobs and $10 billion worth of investment with the announcement Wednesday that Foxconn Technology Group will build a large liquid-crystal display panel plant in Wisconsin. But Michigan could be in line for other investments by the Taiwanese technology giant.

Foxconn announced at the White House that it is planning to build a “state of the art” facility to build liquid-crystal display, or LCD, panels in Wisconsin. Michigan had been in the running for the facility, but White House officials said the company reached an agreement with Wisconsin after negotiations with multiple states.

The announcement came the same day that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new business incentive package designed to benefit companies like Foxconn that successfully create hundreds or thousands of new jobs here.

Snyder has remained tight-lipped about Michigan’s efforts to woo Foxconn, noting that non-disclosure agreements are typical in the economic development arena, but on Wednesday he pointed to public reports the company is considering several investments in the United States.

“The Foxconn situation involves multiple projects, and as time transpires, it may be apparent there are some of those that are better suited for some places than others,” Snyder said in an extended interview with The Detroit News editorial board. “And I think it’s fair to say that we’re still — in reports — being discussed as one of the leading states to look at for projects they have going on. The story isn’t over.”

“They may have other things they’re working on that may be better suited to industries we’re strong on here,” Snyder said.

He declined to discuss a timeline for any potential Michigan deal, but called his Wednesday bill signing “timely.”

As The News reported Tuesday, Michigan officials continue to believe the state is well-positioned to land some sort of Foxconn development. Potential sites include Lyon Township and Romulus.

Michigan is angling for what one ranking official called a “more auto-related” investment that would be a natural fit with the state’s burgeoning auto supply sector.

“If you get the smaller screens, you can see the future of vehicles and how that may go,” Snyder said. “And then there’s the whole question of assembly and other work. They’ve talked about multiple projects, and they have talked about that publicly.”

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou has said the company’s investments could span several states. He has previously named Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.

The Trump administration has also expressed confidence that Foxconn will ultimately build facilities in multiple states.

“Foxconn has the full expectation that this will be the first of a series of facilities that they will be building in the United States, which will include being located in multiple states around the United States and as part of a robust manufacturing ecosystem, which they are going to strive to create within the United States and be a part of creating,” a senior administration official said in advance of Wednesday’s press conference.

“So while the President is announcing his very substantial, very meaningful commitment from Foxconn, it is that company’s hope and expectation that it will be the first of many announcements that will be made regarding their continued investment in the country,” the administration official continued.

Trump had already hinted that Wisconsin would be in line for the initial plan. Snyder said his administration has also had good discussions with federal officials “with respect to certain economic development opportunities” and has had contact with Foxconn.

“I can’t use the word negotiations,” he said. “We’re talking to them.”

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