A rendering shows early plans for the two new leading-edge Intel processor factories in Licking County, Ohio. Chip production is expected to begin at the end of 2025. (Credit: Intel Corp.)
By Joan Slattery Wall
How can public policy and public administration ensure the full opportunity that Intel’s central Ohio arrival could bring locally and to Ohio and the nation?
Chips are integrated circuits or small wafers of semiconductor material embedded with integrated circuitry that power digital computers in everything from advanced supercomputers to cell phones, microwave ovens and automobiles. (Credit: Majesti Brown)
Intel is investing $50 million directly in Ohio higher education institutions including Ohio State to establish comprehensive and collaborative programs to accelerate readiness and enable the workforce needed for operations of its new semiconductor fabrication facilities and of ecosystem partners. The investments will provide resources for creating new curriculums for associate and undergraduate degrees, certifications, faculty training, reskill and upskill programs for the existing workforce, laboratory equipment upgrades and research supporting semiconductor fabrication innovation.
Josh Hawley, director of the Ohio Education Research Center (OERC), a unit of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, said Intel will need high paying jobs in direct services along with low-wage positions.
“It will drive up demand for all kinds of workers, everything from your plumber to housekeeper. So there are lots of positive spillovers,” he said.
He’s concerned, however, that too many of the high wage jobs will come from people moving to Ohio.
Intel enters a market already vying for employees in most industry types.
Lisa Patt-McDaniel, CEO of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, said much of the talent needed by Intel already exists in local employees with transferable skills.
“Intel is essentially advanced manufacturing; that’s not a skillset we don’t have,” she said.
Another example: Construction workers who don’t need advanced training and could start work immediately.
“It’s very possible you could get a job there now and will be working on that site for 20 years because they’ll be adding additional fabrication facilities,” she said, pointing out that Intel has indicated it could expand beyond its planned two new fabrication plants to eight.
Meeting the housing needs of new Intel employees will require strategic housing development with various home price points including not only new builds but apartments such as these Redwood Apartments in Johnstown, Ohio, near the Intel site. (Credit: Joan Slattery Wall)
The local housing market already shows effects that the potential influx of new Intel employees brings for supply and demand and pricing.
“One of the awesome things about Intel is it’s going to raise property values; one of the scary things about Intel is it’s going to raise property values,” said Stephanie Moulton, a Glenn College professor whose expertise includes housing and consumer finance.
“For people who already own homes, this is a good thing. But for people who haven't yet purchased homes, already the Columbus housing market is one of strongest in the country in terms of our house price growth,” she said. “Prices have just boomed since COVID, and the population is growing, which means demand for housing and homes is increasing and supply can't keep up with that demand, so you end up having really high prices.
“I think about the missing middle and first-time homeowners,” Moulton says.
More than 50,000 Intel CPU cores power the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s Owens (pictured) and Pitzer supercomputers as they catalyze research and discovery throughout Ohio. (Credit: Ohio Supercomputer Center)
Intel’s arrival could provide opportunities for faculty research and student experiential learning.
While much of the focus has been on the recruitment of employees in engineering or construction, Intel’s arrival might amplify the need for Glenn College graduates in areas including city planners, finance and budgeting, policymaking and government relations.
In fact, Patt-McDaniel said, opportunities for internships could increase as local governments need additional staffing and fresh perspectives.
“We need people going into public service who have the ability to take a wide-angle view even if they’re working on one part of it,” she said. “I honestly think that when you’re in the policy and government seat, you have the ability to do so much good to set the conditions for everything else to work.”
As part of their report “Transforming Ohio’s Economy: Questions for the Next Governor of Ohio,” Bill Shkurti, distinguished adjunct professor with the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, and Fran Stewart, senior research associate for The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs and the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, outlined prospects and challenges that arise with Intel’s arrival to the state.
Moulton, who also serves as the Glenn College faculty director for research, noted that Intel has demonstrated its commitment to research, and Ohio State and Intel are already partnering together on efforts such as workforce development. Many Glenn College faculty have expertise and engagement in research in the areas that will be most impacted by the company, including education, collaborative governance, support programs such as food systems, nonprofit organizations, and energy and environment policy.
“Intel could invest in ivory tower research,” Moulton said, “and our researchers can roll that back into the communities that are going to be affected by Intel.”