Initial wire service reports last Thursday out of Taiwan did not include North Carolina on a list of states under consideration for a huge $10 billion plant investment by Foxconn, a builder of iPhones and other tech products. But a later report did – and now Raleigh is buzzing about the project. Other states want it, too, including Michigan whose governor wants a big incentive package ready to offer the China-based tech giant.
As WRAL TechWire reported early last Thursday, North Carolina was not on a list of states cited by Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou in a meeting with shareholders in wire service stories.
However, Gou added North Carolina in a Reuters news service story posted later in the day.
Foxconn “is currently considering Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina as possible locations,” Reuters said, citing comments from Gou after the shareholders meeting ended.
“In July we will make a conclusion,” Gou said.
He pointed out that the investment would be made over five years.
N.C. in the running?
Later on Thursday, N.C. House Speaker said business recruiters are trying to land an industry expansion that could bring 8,600 jobs to the state, igniting a flurry of media headlines.
Shortly before the House gave final approval to the proposed $23 billion state budge, Moore and other Republican legislative leaders touted the highlights of the spending plan, from teacher raises to tax cuts to Hurricane Matthew relief, and urged Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to sign it.
One provision in the budget, Moore said, would boost economic incentives for a “transformative project” locating in North Carolina. The legislation defines such a project as a company that invests at least $4 billion in an operation in the state and creates 5,000 jobs.
Under the proposal, such businesses would be eligible for rebates of state withholding taxes on the jobs for up to 25 years. The budget exempts transformative projects from a $20 million annual cap on such awards statewide.
“We’re on the cusp as a state of potentially landing a major industry in this state, and we have now funded one of the most robust economic development packages in the history – certainly it’s the most robust in the history of this state and one of the most robust in the country – to show that North Carolina is serious,” Moore said.
The incentives would combine with the lower corporate income tax rates included in the budget, a more favorable regulatory environment and North Carolina’s community college workforce training programs to give recruiters “every tool in the toolbox,” he said.
“We knew what the Department of Commerce wanted and needed. We took that and we actually made it a little more robust,” he said.
Cooper’s staff worked with lawmakers on crafting the policy, spokesman Ford Porter said.
Moore, Porter and Mary Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which handles business recruitment for the state, declined to comment on what type of industry recruiters are pursuing or where in North Carolina a plant might be located. An announcement is expected sometime this year.
“We know the industry, but I don’t want to comment any more than that. It’s something we would be very glad to have,” Moore said. “This is not a misstatement on the number. One is potentially 8,600 jobs in one facility.”
Moore compared the possibility to BMW’s auto plant in South Carolina, which lured supplier plans to the area as well.
“You’re talking thousands and thousands of jobs,” he said. “So, when it’s called a transformative initiative, it truly is transformative for the state.”
Michigan gears up for bid
Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urged the Republican-led Michigan House on Friday to pass economic development tax incentives when it meets in July, saying there is still time to lure Foxconn to the state despite the cancellation of a vote on the legislation.
Snyder, who is on a weeklong trade trip in Europe, told The Associated Press that the proposed tax incentives for large-scale business expansions are “relatively straightforward” and are about “more and better jobs for Michigan.” He traveled to Japan in early June to entice Foxconn, which assembles smartphones and other devices for Apple, Sony, Blackberry and other brands — mostly in China.
Asked about Foxconn’s decision-making process, Snyder said in a phone interview from Milan, Italy: “We’re later in that timeframe but there still is time. … If we get something done in July, we can still hit that (August) date.”