MADISON, Wis. – House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday he met with officials from the Taiwanese company Foxconn as it considers building a plant in Wisconsin that could employ up to 10,000 people.
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Ryan told reporters that his southeast Wisconsin congressional district "still could be" in the running for the plant, even though the city manager of his hometown Janesville said the factory would not be going there.
Ryan said he met with Foxconn officials at the request of Gov. Scott Walker and he's working closely with the state's congressional delegation to find a "good fit" for a factory. Other southeastern Wisconsin cities in Ryan's district that are close to Chicago, including Racine and Kenosha, are considered possible contenders for a large factory.
Foxconn plans to announce by early August its plans for locating a display panel factory in the U.S. that could cost up to $7 billion. The company assembles smartphones and other devices for Apple, Sony, Blackberry and other brands — mostly in China, where its plants employ about 1 million people.
Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou has mentioned Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Texas as manufacturing states with which the company hopes to work.
"There is great potential there for a lot of great jobs to come to Wisconsin," Ryan said. "We're having those kinds of conversations with Foxconn to do that."
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Hopes that Wisconsin may win the plant were buoyed last month when President Donald Trump said his administration was negotiating a U.S. expansion with "a major, major, incredible manufacturer of phones and computers and televisions."
Trump, who made the comments while in Wisconsin, said that Walker could be getting a "very happy surprise very soon."
Earlier this week, state Assembly Republican leaders said that Foxconn is considering a plant in southeastern Wisconsin that could employ 10,000 people. Walker and state economic development officials have refused to discuss any potential deal while talks are ongoing.
Ryan declined to discuss details about where Foxconn may locate after being asked about comments made by the city manager of Janesville, Ryan's hometown, indicating it was out of the running.
The Janesville Gazette reported that City Manager Mark Freitag said Foxconn had ruled out Janesville because there weren't enough available workers in the area. A 10,000-job employer would account for about 15 percent of Janesville's total current workforce.
"This was a big ask, for sure," Freitag told the newspaper.
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