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Quietly, Owens visits Taiwan to tout NNY

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WASHINGTON — Rep. William L. Owens traveled to Taiwan last week to tout Northern New York to a computer chip maker that may be considering an investment in the state.

Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said Tuesday that he met with executives from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., which competes with a California company that is building a computer chip factory in Saratoga County.

The congressman’s Wednesday-to-Saturday trip also included visits with the Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and the Taiwanese defense minister, as well as a tour of a mega-port where U.S. Customs pre-clears goods headed for the United States.

Mr. Owens said he wanted to find out more about the company’s business plan and to “plant a seed that New York is a good place for them to do business.” Although the company has West Coast connections, he said, he wanted to help it become acclimated to aspects of doing business in the East, including taking advantage of the north country’s close trade relationship with Canada.

“They were receptive but not committal,” Mr. Owens said.

The Taiwan company is part of a global research consortium to be based at SUNY Albany.

The congressman was the lone lawmaker on the trip, which he said was sponsored by Chinese Culture University, a private college in Taiwan. He said he has been looking for potential investors in the north country, and those inquiries led to Taiwan and the university, which asked whether Mr. Owens would be interested in a trip there.

“It was a very intense three days,” he said.

In visiting with the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Owens said, he was surprised to learn that representatives were unaware of a program that allows foreign investors of $500,000 or more in a targeted employment area to obtain U.S. visas. The north country is one such area, he said.

Mr. Owens said his office sent the Chamber of Commerce additional information on the visa program.

The Times Union reported that TSMC has not said what type of investment it may be considering in the state. Its biggest competitor is Globalfoundries, the California chip maker expanding into Saratoga County.

In addition to the business-related visit, Mr. Owens was invited to meet with the Taiwanese defense minister, who he said inquired about U.S. fighter jets.

The congressman’s office did not promote the trip, commenting on it only after the Times Union reported on a news release from a Taiwan news agency last week.

Mr. Owens said he had honored a request from the Taiwanese government to let officials there handle the public information about his visit.

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