JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (WCMH)– Johnstown was already growing before the announcement of the massive semiconductor microchip facility coming to their portion of Licking County, and now they’re preparing for that to be amplified.
“My goal is, we’re just figuring out what questions to ask so that we can then share that with our residents,” Mayor Chip Dutcher said. “We know that they have anxiety, they have a fear of the unknown, but we’re going to try to get them some answers as quickly as we possibly can.”
Johnstown officially became a city in October after the 2020 census put its population above 5,000 people, and infrastructure expansion projects were already in the works.
“We basically are doubling our sewer, doubling our water plant the amount of water, and we already were building a new water tower,” Dutcher said. “I’m sure people will think, ‘Oh, that’s for Intel!’ No, it’s not. It’s just we were already planning.”
At Friday’s official announcement in Newark, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the semiconductor plant will be the largest private investment in state history. Intel says the two chip factories on 1,000 acres will create 3,000 high-paying jobs, 7,000 construction jobs, and the potential of over 10,000 local long-term jobs.
The land where the facility will be built is being annexed into New Albany, but the site sits closer to the center of Johnstown.
Dutcher says he is listening to people in his community and working to get answers to their questions: “Where’s the site? How big is it going to be? How will this affect me? And my life? What are we going to do about transportation issues? That’s a whole subset we have to deal with. How’s this company coming here are going to affect our school system and the annexation? How will that affect taxation and revenue to the school? Will it lead to increased enrollment, etc.?
“We have we’ve started our outreach with all the powers that be about transportation and how we’re going to address that. And better yet how we’re going to pay for it,” Dutcher said.
Johnstown … is a special place. I believe that firmly. And it’s not about the bill. Things are the physical layout of our town. It’s all about the people who live here and have made their homes here. And that goes for our ancestors and for the people that are here now and for those folks from Intel who will be joining us shortly. I intend to welcome them with open arms and tell them that about the attributes of Johnstown and living here.Chip Dutcher, Johnstown Mayor
It’s all about how we treat one another. And I want to keep that no matter how many people end up joining us or coming to our restaurants and going to our businesses.
Dutcher emphasizes the great opportunity this investment is for the future of Ohio and Johnstown.
“We are not a victim in this. We have a great opportunity that’s been handed to us, it’s what we make of it,” he added. “And especially for the kids who will be able to grow up here, get their education here in Ohio, and stay here. It’s important to me, and I’m going to focus on that.”
He says the city will hold events in the future and invite citizens to come in and ask questions.
“It’s all about being proactive at this point. There’s no sitting back waiting on somebody to show up on our door and give us information. I’m actively out every day now, having meetings, going to see the right people making lots of phone calls,” he said.
NBC4 Digital Anchor Kristine Varkony spoke with Johnstown Mayor Chip Dutcher about the Intel chip facility coming to Licking County. You can watch the full interview in the video player below.