New Ohio Intel Microchip Plant Will Turn the State into the 'Silicon Valley of the Midwest," Politician Says

Three cheers for Licking County.

click to enlarge Licking County apparently will be the "Silicon Valley of the Midwest." - YASSIE, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Yassie, Wikimedia Commons
Licking County apparently will be the "Silicon Valley of the Midwest."

Ohio’s worst kept secret is out — Intel will soon break ground on a multi-billion dollar factory in Licking County to build the latest generation of computer chips. In recent weeks, local land annexations first reported by Cleveland.com indicated officials were getting the final few elements of an agreement in place before the Jan. 21 announcement.

At the Midland Theater in Newark, Gov. Mike DeWine bragged the deal represents the largest investment of its kind in state history.

“It’s really a game changer, a game changer for our economic future,” DeWine said. “You know Intel could have put these plants anywhere in the country.”

The governor explained after beginning talks with Intel in May of last year, the state received word of the company’s decision on Christmas Day. Forty other states were in the running to land the factory.

“We worked, and we fought, and we won, to bring these jobs to Ohio,” DeWine told the crowd.

Intel’s investment in the region will create 3,000 jobs with six-figure average salaries, as well as 7,000 construction jobs and more than 10,000 jobs in the area indirectly. DeWine argued Intel’s decision to build in Ohio will force other companies to take long look at Ohio before deciding where they choose to expand.

The plant is a significant achievement for DeWine’s administration, allowing him to tout the thousands of high paying jobs, while taking credit for new domestic production amid a worldwide semiconductor shortage. DeWine was quick to highlight the national security implications of the deal.

“Intel’s announcement is a signal to China and to the rest of the world that from now on, our essential manufactured products in this country will be made in the Unites states of America,” DeWine said.

DeWine was far from the only public official eager to share in the reflected glow.

Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) called Ohio “the silicon valley of the Midwest.” House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) bragged about the advanced manufacturing jobs it would bring to the greater Columbus area, and Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) put the agreement down to investments the general assembly made in economic development.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger described the new facility as the “Silicon Heartland,” in line with their Silicon Forest in Oregon and Silicon Desert in Arizona. This is the first time in 40 years Intel has announced a new U.S. facility, and Gelsinger compared the undertaking to building a small city from scratch.

“If there’s a concrete truck in the state of Ohio that’s not working for me next year, I want to know about it,” Gelsinger joked.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted acknowledged the state is offering incentives as part of the deal to attract Intel, but the administration has yet to release details. Husted explained the state is putting north of $1 billion into nearby infrastructure improvements alone, but he insisted those dollars are well spent.

“We will get a return on our investment,” Husted told the audience. “For every six cents of capital investment the state of Ohio will make, Intel will make $1.”

In exchange Husted argued, the state gets a facility that will support 140 Ohio companies that already supply Intel. He said they predict another 25-30 businesses will emerge over the coming years to help serve the chipmaker.

The initial phase of construction will include two facilities with an eye toward building as many as eight. Gelsinger explained his company likes to make long term, ongoing investments in an area, and he pointed to recent investments of more than $25 billion in three other chip making facilities in Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico.

“These get to be big projects, and as we’ve shown we continue to invest in our sites and we plan to do exactly that here,” Gelsinger said. “At full build out, Ohio could grow to be as much as $100 billion of investments over the next decade.”

In a briefing alongside Ohio’s U.S. Senators earlier Friday, President Biden applauded the announcement as well and took the opportunity to pitch the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which would make significant investments in research and manufacturing, including about $50 billion to incentivize domestic semiconductor production. Biden argued when the government makes investments in an industry it encourages private investors to do the same.

Ohio U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown  are pushing that measure in Congress, and after Friday’s event in Newark, Brown insisted they were going to get the measure passed. Gelsinger carved out time in his remarks to make a pitch for the same provisions, noting it would speed the long term development of Intel’s Ohio plant.

The company plans to start construction no later than the end of this year.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

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