Bid near for Fox­conn plant, Wis­con­sin law­mak­ers say

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - SCOTT BAUER THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wis. — Two Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers said Thurs­day that Wis­con­sin is closer to an­nounc­ing its of­fer to at­tract Tai­wanese iPhone man­u­fac­turer Fox­conn to the state.

Law­mak­ers and Gov. Scott Walker are dis­cussing a pack­age of in­cen­tives to en­tice Fox­conn to Wis­con­sin that will be a part of any deal made with the com­pany, Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. John Ny­gren said.

Wis­con­sin is one of sev­eral Mid­west states vy­ing for Fox­conn as it con­sid­ers build­ing a $7 bil­lion dis­play panel manufacturing plant

that could em­ploy up to 10,000 people. The com­pany was ex­pected to an­nounce its de­ci­sion by early August. Michi­gan passed new eco­nomic in­cen­tives to sweeten its deal for Fox­conn last week.

Repub­li­can Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Scott Fitzger­ald said Thurs­day that “huge, big num­bers” are be­ing talked about to help land Fox­conn. Nei­ther Ny­gren nor Olsen said they knew how much the state may of­fer Fox­conn.

One idea be­ing dis­cussed is us­ing $200 mil­lion that Walker had pro­posed for a per­sonal in­come tax cut and di­vert­ing it to help pay for trans­porta­tion fund­ing and pos­si­bly Fox­conn in­cen­tives, Fitzger­ald said. But he stressed that pos­si­bil­ity was part of a “brainstorming” ses­sion he had with Walker and Assem­bly Speaker Robin Vos on Wed­nes­day.

Vos did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment on Thurs­day.

Ny­gren, who is co-chair­man of the Leg­is­la­ture’s bud­get com­mit­tee, said in­cen­tives for Fox­conn would not be in­cluded in the two-year bud­get cur­rently be­ing worked on that’s al­ready three weeks past due. But he said money be­ing con­sid­ered for tax cuts now, such as the $200 mil­lion Walker wanted to use to cut in­come taxes, may in­stead be needed for in­cen­tives later as part of any deal with Fox­conn.

Ny­gren was op­ti­mistic that Wis­con­sin would win the high-stakes race to land Fox­conn, but he stressed that talks were fluid and the com­pany could just as eas­ily choose an­other state. He and other law­mak­ers at­tended a bar­be­cue at the Gov­er­nor’s Man­sion with Walker and Fox­conn Chair­man Terry Gou last week.

“It was very clear a deal could come as quickly as the end of the month,” Ny­gren said.

Olsen said the state could an­nounce it has en­tered into a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Fox­conn by the end of the month. Olsen said he wanted to hold off on pass­ing Wis­con­sin’s over­due state bud­get “un­til we know what’s go­ing on with this.”

Adding in Fox­conn in­cen­tives is a new twist.

“This is some­thing we have to take se­ri­ously if they de­cide to come to Wis­con­sin,” Olsen said of in­cen­tives for Fox­conn. “We have to make sure we’re in fis­cal shape to ful­fill the obli­ga­tions that are be­ing pre­sented to Fox­conn to come to Wis­con­sin.”

Walker spokesman Tom Even­son de­clined to com­ment about what Olsen said about a pend­ing Fox­conn deal. Walker and state eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly de­clined to com­ment about it, say­ing they can’t dis­cuss on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with po­ten­tial new busi­nesses.

But U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said ear­lier this month that he had met with Fox­conn of­fi­cials at the re­quest of Walker, and he hoped they would lo­cate a plant in his southeast Wis­con­sin con­gres­sional dis­trict near the bor­der with Illi­nois. And Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in June that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was ne­go­ti­at­ing a U.S. ex­pan­sion with “a ma­jor, ma­jor, in­cred­i­ble man­u­fac­turer of phones and com­put­ers and tele­vi­sions” and that Walker could be get­ting a “very happy sur­prise very soon.”

Fox­conn as­sem­bles smart­phones and other de­vices for Ap­ple, Sony, Black­berry and other brands. Most of its op­er­a­tions are based in China, where its plants em­ploy about 1 mil­lion people.

For the com­pany’s U.S. plant, Gou has said it is con­sid­er­ing Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Illi­nois, In­di­ana and Texas as manufacturing states with which the com­pany hopes to work.

AP/WALLY SAN­TANA

Em­ploy­ees en­ter and exit the head­quar­ters of Tai­wan’s Hon Hai Pre­ci­sion In­dus­try Co., also known as Fox­conn, in New Taipei City, Tai­wan, in this 2016 file photo. Wis­con­sin is close to per­suad­ing iPhone man­u­fac­turer Fox­conn to build a large manufacturing plant in the state, two state law­mak­ers said Thurs­day.

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