Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Foxconn still could invest in Pa.

- 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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