Taiwanese manufacturing company Foxconn will build its first U.S. factory in Wisconsin, where it expects to employ between 3,000 and 13,000 people, officials announced on Wednesday.
The $10 billion facility would initially employ 3,000 people and could expand over time to create as many as 13,000 jobs, according to a senior White House official. The jobs will pay an average salary of $53,875, plus benefits, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The project is the "single largest economic development project in the history of the state of Wisconsin," said Gov. Scott Walker, who made the announcement on Wednesday at the White House with Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou.
Foxconn is best known for manufacturing Apple iPhones. The Wisconsin facility will produce liquid-crystal display, or LCD panels.
Walker said he and Gou have decided to refer to the project as "Wisconn Valley" because of its anticipated "transformational effect" on the state, akin to Silicon Valley in California.
A specific location has not yet been chosen, but the facility will be one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world, at 20 million square feet, according to WEDC. The plant will be located in southeastern Wisconsin, and is projected to be up and running by 2020.
The project is an "absolute game changer" for southeastern Wisconsin, said House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville.
Construction on the plant is projected to generated $348 million in state and local tax revenues, employing 10,000 construction workers and indirectly supporting 6,000 additional jobs.
Once the facility is operational, it is expected to create 22,000 "indirect and induced jobs" throughout the state, generating an estimated $181 million annually in state and local tax revenues, according to WEDC.
The deal is the result of a "tremendous team effort" involving Walker, Ryan, President Donald Trump, the White House Office of American Innovation, senior adviser Jared Kushner, chief of staff and Kenosha native Reince Priebus, the White House official said.
Trump praised Walker for his "tremendous" work in courting the company, and credited his own 2016 election for creating a climate that made the U.S. attractive to the manufacturing giant.
"Chairman Gou put his faith and confidence in the future of the American economy. In other words, if I didn’t get elected, he definitely would not be spending $10 billion," Trump said.
The announcement comes after weeks of speculation that negotiations were in the works. Walker thanked a bipartisan group of state and federal lawmakers for their "tenacious" work in sealing the deal.
Foxconn considered several states before selecting Wisconsin. No new federal programs will be created to support the company, but the state Legislature will go into a special session to pass an incentive package.
The package would allow Foxconn to earn up to $3 billion over 15 years in state income tax credits tied to job creation and capital investment, and a sales tax holiday for the purchase of construction materials.
The incentives are expected to cost between $200 million and $250 million per year. Once the company is fully staffed, its payroll will be a projected $700 million per year.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has said he would like to see bipartisan support to approve the incentive package.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said he met with Foxxconn representatives about a week-and-a-half ago, and the company is looking at sites in Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee counties.
It's an "exciting opportunity" for southeastern Wisconsin, Barca said, but he wants to make sure the plant provides "long-term, family-supporting job opportunities."
"This has the opportunity to be one of the largest job creators in U.S. manufacturing. These are excellent wage jobs and have the ability to create tremendous spin-off benefit as a supply side gets built up around these large manufacturing plants," the White House official said.
Other Democrats were more hesitant to celebrate the news.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, noted that Foxconn has a history of not following through on some of its announcements, including a 2013 plan to invest $30 million in a new factory in Pennsylvania that never materialized.
"The bottom line is this company has a concerning track record of big announcements with little follow through. Given the lack of details, I’m skeptical about this announcement and we will have to see if there is a legislative appetite for a $1 to $3 billion corporate welfare package," Shilling said in a statement.
Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, argued any special treatment given to Foxconn should come with a long-term commitment for the company to stay in Wisconsin.
According to WEDC, the state will enter a memorandum of understanding with Foxconn outlining the terms of the incentives. The contract ultimately negotiated would require Foxconn to pay back tax credits if it does not keep its jobs and investment in Wisconsin. The company could only earn the full $3 billion in incentives by spending $10 billion in Wisconsin and creating 13,000 jobs with an average salary of $53,875.
Foxconn contracts with major technology companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft, and employs 1.2 million people in Europe, Asia and South America.
Trump first hinted at the possibility of a "major, incredible manufacturer" coming to Wisconsin during a visit to the state in June.
Walker and other state officials will hold a ceremony on Thursday at the Milwaukee Art Museum to celebrate the announcement and welcome the company to Wisconsin.