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Lenovo planning a PC factory in the US

In an era when major American technology companies outsource their manufacturing to Asian countries, China's biggest computer maker is reportedly planning a US-based factory to assemble Think-branded desktop and laptop PCs.

Lenovo, which by some accounts took over Hewlett-Packard's spot as the top PC maker in the world this year, is preparing to establish a computer assembly factory in North Carolina, according to DigiTimes.

The Taiwan-based tech journal this week cited unnamed supply chain sources as saying that Lenovo's US factory would "produce desktops and notebooks in small volumes" as part of global goal of increasing its in-house production of PCs from 20 percent of units shipped this year all the way to 50 percent in 2013.

Lenovo, which currently operates five factories in China and one each in Mexico and India, is also reportedly eyeing locations in Brazil, Germany, and Canada to build manufacturing facilities, DigiTimes reported.

The computer maker didn't immediately reply to a request for comment, but the North Carolina factory makes sense on one level. Lenovo's operational headquarters in the US are located in Morrisville, N.C.

Though the output of such an operation would be small, per DigiTimes, stamping "Made in the USA" on a certain number of commercial-class PCs could theoretically go a long way with US business customers. It's not hard to imagine some companies valuing the chance to win some points with an American public that has expressed displeasure with the widespread outsourcing of high-tech manufacturing by companies like Apple, HP, and Dell to China and other Asian countries.

But creating such jobs in the US wouldn't be Lenovo's main motivation for the move, according to DigiTimes' sources. Instead, they said the Chinese computing giant is looking for a logistical advantage in readying desktops and laptops for US businesses and for government procurement orders, the tech site reported.

The news comes as Apple CEO Tim Cook this week confirmed that some Mac production will come to the U.S. in 2013. Apple supplier Foxconn, meanwhile, also confirmed that it is looking to expand operations in North America.

Mark Stanton, Lenovo's director of global supply chain communications, confirmed some of the details in this report late on Friday. Specifically, Stanton said Lenovo is currently hiring to fill about 100 assembly line positions at a Greensboro, N.C.-based factory operation that will produce limited amounts of Lenovo desktops, laptops, all-in-ones, and tablets, mainly for corporate and government orders in the US. That factory will also employ 15 engineers for a total headcount of 115 in the coming months. He also said that the company's goal is to eventually manufacture 50 percent of its products in-house, but did not confirm the timeline for that happening as reported by DigiTimes, or the locations of other possible manufacturing operations named by the tech site.

Image Credit: Flickr (Cory M. Grenier)