Chinese media: Foxconn to build in Michigan

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
Foxconn CEO Terry Gou and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn is planning a research and development facility for autonomous vehicle components in Michigan, according to Chinese media reports published as Gov. Rick Snyder continues his nine-day trade mission there.

Snyder met with Foxconn founder and Chairman Terry Gou in Shenzhen, but his administration is not confirming the potential “multibillion dollar” Michigan investment first reported by China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong. 

“They had a great visit and very productive dialogue, but we don’t have any official announcements to make at this time,” spokeswoman Anna Heaton told The Detroit News.

Snyder said in a Sunday morning statement he believes Michigan has “a strong future with Foxconn” and thinks “there are very exciting things to come in the future.”

"Michigan is where innovation happens,” the governor said. “We are leading in mobility and the transformation of manufacturing, and the rest of the world is clearly taking note.”

News of the potential Michigan deal comes less than two weeks after Gou confirmed Foxconn would invest $10 billion to build a plant in Wisconsin, a blockbuster move announced at the White House and praised by President Donald Trump.

The Wisconsin plant will build liquid-crystal displays and could mean 13,000 jobs for that state. Foxconn previously indicated it would build in more than one state.

The South China Morning Post quotes Gou as saying the new Michigan plant will involve research and development for autonomous vehicle components.

"Automotive development in the U.S. is still more advanced than China,” said Gou, declining to divulge the investment amount for Michigan. “Besides self-driving technology, I’m also interested in artificial intelligence and deep learning technology.”

China Daily also reported on Foxconn plans in Michigan after Snyder and Gou toured a Foxconn factory in the Longhua district of Shenzhen.

Snyder said Sunday he was “very impressed” by Gou’s vision for Foxconn.

“We had a very productive dialogue about the importance of talent in manufacturing and the future of autonomous driving,” he said after touring “Foxconn's world class products and manufacturing facility."

Snyder has been actively wooing Foxconn and recently signed a new $200 million business incentive package that could benefit large employers such as Foxconn. The so-called “good jobs” package will allow a qualifying company that creates 3,000 or more jobs with pay rates matching the average regional wage to keep all employee state income taxes for up to 10 years.

As The News previously reported, potential Michigan sites for a Foxconn development include Lyon Township and Romulus.

While Foxconn chose Wisconsin for its first major investment, the Trump administration has expressed confidence the company will ultimately build facilities in multiple states.

“Foxconn has the full expectation that (the Wisconsin plant) will be the first of a series of facilities that they will be building in the United States, which will include being located in multiple states around the United States and as part of a robust manufacturing ecosystem, which they are going to strive to create within the United States and be a part of creating,” a senior administration official said last month.