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Intel breaks ground on $20B semiconductor site, Ohio leaders react to the new 'Silicon Heartland'

Intel breaks ground on $20B semiconductor site, Ohio leaders react to the new 'Silicon Heartland'
Posted at 3:43 PM, Sep 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 21:13:20-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — By the end of 2025, central Ohio's Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility will begin production on the tiny computer chips that power the digital world.

Friday was groundbreaking — both for the day's ceremony and the new multi-billion dollar semiconductor facility, which is the first of its magnitude in the country.

With the creation of this new facility, central Ohio was dubbed the "Silicon Heartland," by state officials and Intel representatives at the ceremony.

"This is a great day for this country, a great day for Ohio," Gov. Mike DeWine told News 5.

The governor and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted have been championing this acquisition for months now, but it finally came to fruition today.

"It will determine how Ohio fulfills the promise of becoming the center of high-tech manufacturing in America," Husted said. "So our children and grandchildren will never have to look beyond Ohio for great career opportunities."

But the Ohio state leaders couldn't do this alone.

"This is a new day," U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told News 5. "We are finally, finally fighting for American jobs. We're finally stopping the trade agreements and the tax breaks that push jobs overseas."

Brown, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and current Democratic congressman-and-candidate for U.S. Senate Tim Ryan were some of the driving forces of this merger.

"It has the potential to be transformative," Portman said to News 5. "We have to be sure that we are doing our part which is help provide the trained workers for this facility and all the others who will prop up now because this will spawn a lot of suppliers."

Semiconductors are the chips behind e-commerce, social media, cars, computers and everything that utilizes digital technology; which nowadays is just about everything.

"We have taken major steps to create an industrial policy in the United States that guys like me have been dreaming about my entire career," Ryan told News 5. "So this is going to have a broad impact across the state."

This wouldn't have been possible without the CHIPS Act, which President Joe Biden signed in August.

“As we saw during the pandemic, when the factories that make these chips shut down, chips shut down. The global economy comes to a halt,” President Biden said at the groundbreaking. “We need to make these chips right here in America to bring down everyday costs and create good jobs.”

The immediate economic impact will be great. The plant will create 3,000 high-paying jobs, 7,000 construction jobs and tens of thousands of additional jobs.

For union workers like Jason Clark, this is a dream.

"We look forward to the opportunity and working with not just Intel, but One Columbus, JobsOhio, everybody involved," Clark said.

Clark is the Ohio political representative for Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) and he said this long-term project with help union members like him.

"This kind of investment, within a state — that job security is paramount to the contractor base we supply labor to, the training that we have in place, so I mean, to continue to make Ohio attractive, it's highly important," he added.

Not everyone is totally on board, though.

News 5 spent the day talking to Johnstown community members who were split about the Intel project. Many said they didn't want a big city feel, they don't want more traffic and they don't want property taxes to go up. Some were more worried about the pace.

"Things are moving very, very fast," Gabe Walters, a resident of Johnstown, said. "People who should have a bit more of a say should be involved so we are ready, like technology teachers."

Walters is a teacher at Licking Heights High School, which is the exact area that is being impacted by the plant.

He is optimistic and said he knows Intel says they will be supporting schools to learn, but even after reaching out, he knows nothing.

"That makes me nervous when kids should be sped up by 2025," he added "They are not really preparing the people who are supposed to get kids ready."

The skills needed for these jobs can be earned at local high schools, community colleges and apprenticeships, Lieutenant Governor John Husted said as he addressed the crowd at the groundbreaking.

With the newly established Intel’s Semiconductor Education and Research Program for Ohio, Intel has committed $50 million to community colleges in Ohio to enhance curriculum and education surrounding industrial manufacturing.

Lorain County Community College is one of eight colleges to receive an Intel award.

"This landmark investment will create a wave of economic opportunity across the state increasing the demand for a highly skilled workforce. We, along with our partners, are ready to fuel its creation" said Dr. Marcia Ballinger, president of Lorain County Community College, in a press release Friday.

Staying up North, Cleveland Democratic Mayor Justin Bibb took some time to talk about how Cleveland and the surrounding cities and towns will be impacted.

"Well, our state and in Cleveland specifically, we've always been at the heart of innovation," Bibb told News 5. "We're seeing the next chapter, that story start right here in Columbus, and we want to make sure that Cleveland has a storied history in that in that book, once again."

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, a Democrat from Richmond Heights, has always been on the side of unions since 1975, so having products built in America — and Ohio — is more than just exciting for him.

"This creates jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs and for the state of Ohio," Yuko said. "It's a grand slam, home run for the state of Ohio today in a World Series."

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.