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U.S. Rep. Fred Upton wants iPhone manufacturer Foxconn to consider putting its new factory for producing display panels in southwest Michigan, where a company-linked jet reportedly landed last week.

Wisconsin recently emerged as a front-runner to land a potential $7 billion plant for the Taiwanese technology company, which is said to be considering investments of $10 billion in the United States.

Upton, R-St. Joseph, wrote Friday to Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, saying southwest Michigan is “uniquely qualified to become the home of your new display-making factory,” highlighting recently approved legislation offering tax incentives to large job creators in Michigan.

“Manufacturers have long been attracted to Southwest Michigan because of our skilled and dedicated workforce that draws on a distinct spirit of entrepreneurship. There is also no better place to raise a family or run a business than on the shores of Lake Michigan — affording both employers and employees an unparalleled quality of life,” Upton wrote, offering to speak with Gou by phone or in person.

“This region has all of the key components for your investment to prosper: a solid manufacturing sector, a steadfast workforce and robust economic development organizations.”

Gou has said that Foxconn’s investments could span multiple states, naming Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.

Talk of a Foxconn investment in Wisconsin heated up last week when a luxury jet believed to be linked to Gou landed at the Milwaukee and Madison airports. Lawmakers in Wisconsin are working on a package of tax incentives to attract Foxconn, according to Associated Press reports.

The same Gulfstream 650 stopped at the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport in Benton Harbor on July 12, according to the flight-tracking site FlightAware.

It’s unclear how long the aircraft was in Benton Harbor or why it stopped there before continuing on to Milwaukee. This week, the same jet was spotted at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Ohio.

Most speculation over potential Foxconn sites in Michigan has focused on Metro Detroit.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he did not meet with any company representatives July 12 — the same day the state Legislature approved the so-called “good jobs” incentive package. She also was not aware of any administration officials meeting with Foxconn.

“There are no Foxconn or Foxconn related meetings on his schedule,” Heaton said by email last week.

Snyder has said little about Foxconn negotiations because of a non-disclosure agreement. But as The Detroit News first reported, he flew to Asia for a meeting last month.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said last week be believes Michigan is still in the running for a potential Foxconn development, noting the company may end up picking more than one state for multiple new facilities that it’s considering.

“Depending on how much of it you get, doesn’t sound like one state’s gonna get all of it,” Meekhof said.

He said Michigan could still stand to gain between 3,000 and 5,000 jobs if the company chooses it.

“It’s significant, high-dollar jobs as well,” he said.

Michigan’s new tax incentive program would offer up to $200 million for qualifying companies that could keep some or all of the income taxes that new employees would otherwise pay to the state.

Rob Cleveland of the Cornerstone Alliance, a southwest Michigan economic development nonprofit group, said he could not comment “on any sort of project we’re actively working on.”

Asked if that meant there have been Foxconn talks that he is not at liberty to discuss, Cleveland said, “I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

“I can tell you that we have dozens of active projects that we’re working on. I’m not trying to be evasive. It’s just the nature of the business,” Cleveland said.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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