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Redefining the Rust Belt: Intel announces $20 billion mega-plant near Columbus; impact to be felt statewide

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 19:02:08-05

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — In what has been called the largest economic development project in state history, Intel has announced plans for a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility near Columbus that is scheduled to go online in 2025. The mega project, which could balloon to $100 billion within the next decade, is expected to employ 3000 people, earning an average salary of $135,000 a year. While located in Central Ohio, Intel’s new facility is expected to have a far-reaching impact across the state.

Watch the full presentation announcing the new facility here.

The massive complex, which will include the construction of two chip factories in the near term, will be located in Licking County on a 1,000-acre site east of Columbus. In addition to the direct employment of 3,000 people, as many as 7,000 construction jobs and tens of thousands of additional jobs for suppliers, partners and other support-related businesses.

In total, the project will add nearly $3 billion to the state's annual gross state product. According to Gov. Mike DeWine, it's the largest single private sector company investment in the state's history.

“This is a major win for Ohio. It really is a game-changer, a game-changer for our economic future,” DeWine said on Friday afternoon, adding that Ohio beat out 40 other states in landing the Intel deal. “What makes this announcement truly transformative for Ohio. Any company, any place that’s thinking about opening a new plant will simply have to give Ohio a good look.”

Intel’s investment marks the company’s first new manufacturing site in 40 years. The semiconductor ‘fab’ site will significantly boost the production of the chips that have become ubiquitous in everyday life. Semiconductors are found in phones, computers, cars and other electronics. Simply put, they are the foundation for today’s electronics.

“It’s great news for Ohio,” said Michael Goldberg, an experienced venture capitalist and entrepreneur that is an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. “Clearly, those of us that have been waiting on new cars or new appliances that are held up in the supply chain because of chip shortages are hyper-aware of the needs for smart chips.”

Semiconductors are commonly used in the automotive, advanced mobility, aerospace, aviation, defense, healthcare and technology industries. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a worldwide shortage of these chips, forcing manufacturers in a multitude of industries to suffer from decreased manufacturing capacity, plants being stalled and production ceasing.

More than 30 years ago, the United States led the world in chip production. However, production capacity has fallen from around 40% to a paltry 12%. Although it is expected to drop further, officials said that trend will begin to be reversed once the Intel plant comes online.

“I think there is reason for optimism that not only is the Intel plant going to create jobs and economic activity through the work that they do, but also through partners that are going to want to work with Intel,” Goldberg said.

Intel already has 140 suppliers scattered across the state of Ohio. Many of those businesses are expected to expand and invest once the chip plant is online.

“Ohioans have always been dreamers. And we've always been doers,” DeWine said. “Intel's announcement today just confirms that, once again, this is Ohio's time in history. This is our time.”