On September 9th, Governor Mike DeWine and Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger were joined by President Biden to break ground for the biggest economic development project in Ohio’s history – Intel’s new $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing plants. And, according to the company, this could be just the beginning of what it has dubbed the Silicon Heartland.
The two facilities in New Albany, near Columbus, are expected to create more than 7,000 construction jobs and, when finished in 2025, employ more than 3,000 workers at an average salary of $135,000, according to JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation.
At least 169 businesses across the state are already part of Intel’s supply chain, according to JobsOhio, and the project is expected to attract additional businesses to the state to support that supply chain, creating another 10,000 jobs.
Intel has said the signing of the federal CHIPS Act – which includes nearly $53 billion in investments and incentives in the semiconductor industry – could lead to an even bigger investment on its part, with the potential for six more plants at the location.
Welcome to the Silicon Heartland
Currently, the U.S. makes just 12% of the global supply of computer chips. Manufacturers around the world are facing a shortage of computer chips, a shortage that is only expected to get worse. The Intel investment puts Ohio at the center of meeting that demand.
“According to the projections we’ve looked at, in the next 10 years, the demand for semiconductors will be greater than it has been for the last 40 years,” JobsOhio president J.P. Nauseef tells WorkingNation.
“There’s 10,000 semiconductors that go into one electronic electric vehicle. Semiconductors go into everything now and that curve is getting steeper.”
Nauseef says to have the chip-making industry here in the U.S. is important in terms of both economic health and national security.
“These semiconductors are used to power our national defense apparatus, our drones, the data centers that provide data and secure intelligence. They have very defined security requirements that require that they are designed and manufactured in a secure environment.”
To help fill those 3,000 new jobs and future jobs, Intel is investing an additional $50 million in the state’s higher education system to develop two- and four-year programs to create a pipeline of skilled talent.
A Unique Funding Source for Economic Investment
JobsOhio was created a decade ago to attract new capital investment to Ohio and create jobs. It’s a private company financed in a unique way.
It was founded on the idea that a private sector economic development entity was better positioned, and could react more rapidly and effectively than the state government, when it came to a quickly-shifting economic climate.
“So, they privatized what was the Ohio Department of Development, a cabinet-level position. In 2013, JobsOhio had the idea to go to the bond markets, raise $1.4 billion, and purchase the rights to operate Ohio’s spirituous liquor enterprise. Jobs Ohio use the profits to fund economic development.”
Nauseef says the enterprise has been growing at close to a 9% year-over-year growth since then. “To give you an idea of the magnitude, last year ended up with just over $300 million in net profit. It provides us with an amazing competitive advantage. We’re private. We have an independent source of bonds through the profits from the liquor enterprise, and we have that arrangement through 2038,” he explains.
A State of Diverse Industries and Options
Nauseef says the state has one of the most diverse economies of any state in the country and that make it an attractive place to locate a new business.
“We’ve got 10 sectors – we call them resilient sectors. We focus on them because that’s how our state has grown up. Key sectors include manufacturing, automaking, energy, logistics, health care, and agriculture,” he explains. Other top industries include aerospace and aviation, an important legacy employer with top companies such as General Electric, Honeywell, and NASA.
It also has a huge military and defense presence, contributing nearly $40 billion to the overall economy. One of the nation’s largest military installations – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – is located just outside of Dayton, less than 100 miles from the new Intel plant. “Wright Patterson has over 30,000 active duty and civilian employees, plus the support industry and ecosystem,” explains Nauseef.
He adds, “We’ve got NASA Glen Research Center up in Northeast, Ohio. We’ve got a defense finance and accounting service in Columbus. We’ve got several National Guard and reserve units all over the state.”
It’s perhaps not surprising that Ohio has the sixth largest population of veterans in the country. To help support the military-connected community, JobsOhio has set up a site – Find Your Ohio – listing in-demand careers and other job resources for veterans and their spouses.
“The people of Ohio love and respect the service and we’ve taken on an initiative to make sure the rest of the world knows that Ohio is the most military-friendly state in America,” says Nauseef.
‘A win for the people of Ohio’
“A lot of our Midwestern peers are dominated by one large metropolitan area or one large industry, where we have multiple city states,” he explains. “We have Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. And then we have some medium-sized cities – Toledo and Dayton – and we have a lot of what we call hallmark town, small communities.”
Nauseef says the key to attracting new businesses to Ohio is using local economic developers who really know their communities. “We’re able to do these deals in a very customized way with a local touch. We pull our economic developers out of the private sector. They’re passionate.”
“We have individuals on our team – managing directors – that have extensive industry experience, so we can deliver deals that provide a win for the client and provide a win for the people of Ohio. It’s an amazing model. We can’t find anything like it in the country, and it does provide Ohio with a competitive advantage,” he tells WorkingNation.
“It is not to that we’re impervious or immune from a recession or from a pandemic, but we’re less susceptible than states that are dominated by one or two industries or one or two communities,” he adds. “In a post-COVID calibrated economy, Ohio’s got some significant momentum across all of those sectors.”
Nauseef says Ohio also has a gritty nature which positions it well in this new economy.
“We’re a product of watching deals like Intel pass us by for decades and of watching our population leave and not come back. For those of us that have been at this for a long time or been paying attention to it for a long time, it, it does feel like validation and vindication as we’re seeing the, the pendulum and the momentum swing back.
We’re just very grateful for it and, and we’re ready for it. And welcome as many people and many families and businesses that want to set up, shop a set up home, in Ohio. It’s an exciting time.”