In 2016, a group of consultants, state officials and executives of electronics manufacturer Foxconn reached out to Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. to identify a site where Foxconn could build a factory.
Taiwan-based Foxconn, which makes flat-screen displays for Apple and other tech companies, had been looking for a site in the U.S. to house a massive plant and several support facilities.
The company landed on Wisconsin.
In June 2017, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker joined Foxconn and federal officials, including President Trump, to announce the start of construction on a 20-million-square-foot facility that would create 3,000 jobs and eventually employ up to 13,000 workers. Foxconn said it would invest $10 billion to build the facility.
However, 18 months later, the plan for the Wisconsin plant has changed. According to the Associated Press, the plant is still under construction and expected to open in 2020, but it would not bring the thousands of factory jobs it promised. The plant is now slated to become a research and development center staffed by scientists and engineers, according to the AP.
While the Lehigh Valley never was in the running for the large Foxconn facility, the company did identify the Lehigh Valley as a potential site during a national search for a support facility, said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC.
LVEDC ultimately showed Foxconn a few different sites in both Lehigh and Northampton counties, Cunningham said. There was some interest and LVEDC followed up with Foxconn, but never heard back, he added.
“The trail kind of went cold the last couple of years,” Cunningham said.
A support facility could have employed up to 300 people in high-paying engineering jobs, he added.