Fox­conn still could in­vest in Pa.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front page - By Mark Belko

A week after Ap­ple sup­plier Fox­conn an­nounced plans to build its first-ever U.S. plant in Wis­con­sin, Penn­syl­va­nia still may be in the mix for a pos­si­ble in­vest­ment, Al­legheny County Ex­ec­u­tive Rich Fitzger­ald said Thurs­day.

“I think they are in­ter­ested in not just the Wis­con­sin lo­ca­tion but in look­ing at other ar­eas across the U.S.,” he said. “Penn­syl­va­nia is well po­si­tioned to be

com­pet­i­tive in that process.”

The Tai­wanese elec­tron­ics gi­ant se­lected Wis­con­sin over a half dozen other states, in­clud­ing Penn­syl­va­nia, to build a $10 bil­lion plant to pro­duce liq­uid­crys­tal dis­play pan­els used in tele­vi­sions and com­puter screens.

To lure the firm, Wis­con­sin of­fered up to $3 bil­lion in cash pay­ments over 15 years if the plant reaches an up­per goal of 13,000 workers. Gov. Scott Walker has said that at least one other state-of­fered more in a failed bid to get the fa­cil­ity.

In mak­ing its de­ci­sion, Fox­conn stated that the Wis­con­sin plant was the first of sev­eral in­vest­ments it ex­pected to make in the United States, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that other states may still be in the run­ning.

And in an in­ter­view with CNN, the com­pany main­tained that its in­ter­est in Penn­syl­va­nia re­mained strong four years after it an­nounced plans for a $30 mil­lion plant in Har­ris­burg that hasn’t been built.

The rea­son that project hasn’t hap­pened yet, it told the net­work, is that the state has yet to com­mit to a level of sup­port that would make the Har­ris­burg project “eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.”

Asked about the in­cen­tives Penn­syl­va­nia of­fered to com­pete for the plant Wis­con­sin got, David Smith, a spokesman for the state Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, said he could not com­ment di­rectly be­cause of a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

But he added that the state, un­der Gov. Tom Wolf, “con­tin­ues to ag­gres­sively seek over­seas in­vest­ment and of­fer a com­pet­i­tive, fis­cally re­spon­si­ble pack­age of in­cen­tives to com­pa­nies that want to do busi­ness here.”

Penn­syl­va­nia has not been bash­ful in the past about of­fer­ing big money pack­ages to lure ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Shell, for ex­am­ple, is re­ceiv­ing $1.6 bil­lion in tax in­cen­tives ad­vanced by the state un­der for­mer Gov. Tom Cor­bett to build its $6 bil­lion eth­ane cracker plant in Beaver County.

As for the pro­posed Har­ris­burg plant, Mr. Smith said he did not know why the­com­pany hasn’t built it.

“In 2013, Fox­conn had ex­plored the pos­si­bil­i­ties of ex­pand­ing its Har­ris­burg re­search and de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity, and lo­cat­ing a ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Penn­syl­va­nia. That planned ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity did not come to fruition,” he said.

In an­nounc­ing plans for the Har­ris­burg fa­cil­ity, the com­pany also had pledged to do­nate $10 mil­lion to Carnegie Mel­lon Univer­sity.

It could not be de­ter­mined Thurs­day if that do­na­tion was made.

While the Har­ris­burg fa­cil­ity hasn’t been built, Fox­conn ap­par­ently has looked at sites in West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia and else­where in the state for a pos­si­ble plant.

Mr. Fitzger­ald said he be­lieves the re­gion and the state are “well po­si­tioned” to be part of any ex­pan­sion Fox­conn is con­tem­plat­ing but de­clined to say more, cit­ing non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, RPa., wrote a let­ter to Fox­conn CEO Terry Gou in Fe­bru­ary urg­ing him to con­sider Penn­syl­va­nia for the plant that went to Wis­con­sin. Spokesman Steve Kelly said the se­na­tor has not heard any­thing from the com­pany since it an­nounced its de­ci­sion last week.

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.

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