Neo, the character played be Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, makes the following observation:
“You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.”
Over the last two days, there has been a good deal on online conversation and commentary centering on the announcement by Intel and the State of Ohio about the investment of $20 billion in constructing two state of the art semiconductor manufacturing facilities in western Licking County. The move is the first step in an overall plan that envisions eight factories placed there within ten years.
It’s the kind of investment that generates intense competition between regions and states, each offering attractive incentive packages. It is also the kind of move that transcends the initial investment; it will make the Midwest, and Ohio in particular, a center for what has heretofore been an economic engine for California and western states.
So what does it mean for central Ohio, and even for north central Ohio? As Neo shared, we don’t have the answers. We can, however, tell you how it started and observe what is being said at present about those possibilities.
Speakers at the announcement event in downtown Newark used phrases such as “creating an industry out of whole cloth.” They talked about the possibility of an additional 30 to 40 operations that will supply the new plants with necessary items to manufacture chips. Governor DeWine emphasized that those could be placed anywhere in the state.
As Richland Countians know, there has been similar positive impact over the years from Honda’s investment in Marysville. As WKYC in Cleveland shared, “While Cleveland didn’t get the Intel factory, which the company says could end up as large as four football fields, there are a lot of pros for our area. The distance between Cleveland and New Albany — where the factories are being built — is only about 140 miles. The close proximity means companies in Greater Cleveland that use these chips or companies looking to relocate could chose Ohio to cut down on supply chain issues.”
As OSU President Kristina Johnson added, the state’s higher education community will be called on to supply the personal elements needed – scientists and engineers. “”Facilities like (the Intel factories), all of these jobs are high skilled jobs,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaking at the announcement. “All of this manufacturing at every level, not just the PhDs, require some amount of training,” she added, calling for more apprenticeship programs.”
Johnson’s remarks include reference to OSU’s regional campuses and the recent addition of an engineering technology degree.
The southern part of Richland County would have commute times to the new facility of one hour or less. This is significant as housing has already been identified as a critical need.
The coming years are certainly going to generate additional conversation and planning, and undoubtedly some active and possibly contentious debate, about development issues in the area of Hoover Reservoir, Galena, and Sunbury.
There may even be political overtones. As one person tweeted, “If the intel deal is fully realized, this will likely make Licking county light blue in 7-10 years and Delaware county blue blue in 5-7 years.”
Still, the local reaction over the last 48 hours has been positive. While there are no known words forthcoming from the Richland County Commissioners, the Delaware County Commissioners took the opportunity to make a statement welcoming the announcement: