JOHNSTOWN — President Joe Biden arrived in western Licking County on Friday to the smell of manure and diesel fuel, the sound of John Deere excavators beeping and whirring, and the site of what those in attendance called a “transformational” and “generational” project – not only for Ohio, but also America.
Intel, the California-based semiconductor chip manufacturing company that announced in January it would build a new, $20 billion campus in Ohio, had just broken ground there 90 minutes earlier.
The massive project means more local jobs and less national reliance on other countries to produce semiconductor chips, which power everything from smart phones to automobiles.
The president emerged from his caravan, jogged up the stage steps, and looked out over the crowd of political, economic and educational leaders from across the nation. He couldn’t help but smile.
“You know, it’s fitting to break ground for America’s future here in Ohio. Think about it. There’s kind of a tradition here,” said Biden, who was one of roughly a dozen politicians and business leaders from across the country to speak during Friday’s ceremony.
“The Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn. They defined America’s spirit – a spirit of daring innovation. (Intel CEO) Pat Gelsinger just laid out Intel’s vision that builds on that legacy.”
Friday served as the ceremonial beginning for a project 16 months in the making.
Intel announced in January, after eight months of negotiations with local and state leaders, that it would build its next facility in Licking County, on a 1,000-acre site located between Johnstown and New Albany.
The project was expedited in August by the passage of the federal, bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which is geared towards making “transformative investments to restore and advance our nation’s leadership in the research, development, and manufacturing of semiconductors,” according to the White House’s website.
While construction technically began in early July, Friday marked the official kickoff for a project that is expected to transform the region, state and country.
Projections state Intel will create 20,000 jobs, both direct and indirect, and serve as the largest private commercial investment in Ohio’s history.
“This great state of Ohio has this tradition of manufacturing. You all like to build stuff,” Gelsinger told the crowd Friday, a grin stretching across his face. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do together. We are going to build the most advanced stuff in the world, right here in Ohio.
“We’ll benefit from this long tradition (of) essential industries (in Ohio) – you know, steel, engines, automobiles, chemicals and more. And because of that manufacturing tradition and the strong technology capabilities of the local universities, this became an obvious choice.”
Gelsinger, a native of rural Pennsylvania, said Intel’s investment would soon transform Ohio into the “Silicon Heartland.” He said the Licking County site will serve as “an epicenter of leading-edge technology.”
“Intel’s factory right here will produce the most advanced processing technologies in the world,” Gelsinger said.
Intel has said it expects to begin chip production by 2025. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called Friday a “historic moment” for Ohio, and thanked Intel for choosing the Buckeye State over 39 others nationwide for its next project.
“We celebrate today as a great victory for Ohio, but an even greater victory for our country,” DeWine said. “We have learned over the last few years that there are essential items – necessities that we must make here in the United States of America. We can, we must, and we will make them here.”
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