After a highly visible meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Foxconn’s founder Terry Gou announced plans to open a sprawling Foxconn factory in Guthrie Center, Iowa, essentially replacing the approximately 2,000 residents of that small town with workers from in and around Iowa. The company will hire 300,000 employees for the new factory, about 10% of Iowa’s population.
The plant will include dormitories for workers, multiple swimming pools and Internet cafes, and meal seating for 100,000 employees.
The new plant will subsume most of Guthrie Center as well as potentially thousands of acres of farmland around the area. Experts expect further economic growth as small parts manufacturers begin building, importing, and exporting from around Guthrie Center. A local farmer expects the plant to be a windfall.
“I hear they eat 200 pigs a day at the plant down in China. We can probably eat double that, easy,” said Harlon Williams, a pig farmer in nearby Fanslers.
Apple has not confirmed whether they will request that all of their products be made in Iowa, although a source says the company is assessing the economic impact of building “local” products.
“It just makes sense,” said Apple analyst Piper Jaffray. “Maybe this movie will make Apple buy RIM and install BlackBerry OS on the iPhone. You know, for business.”
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad called the plan a boon to Iowa’s workforce which, along with Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, has turned Iowa into a “high-tech hub” of the Midwest.
Manufacturing in Iowa has been in decline since the late 1990s. The Foxconn factory will more than double Iowa’s total manufacturing workforce.
Not everyone was pleased with the news.
“I’m not moving,” said one Guthrie City resident Paul Timmins, 56. “And I’m not going to work there.”
Timmins was spending a long afternoon at the local coffee shop where he comes each day for lunch. He has been out of work since a disability left him unable to work for the Guthrie Center Golf Club. “I was born here, grandmother buried here, mom is buried here. We want jobs out here for the kids, sure, but this is too much.”