COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Central Ohio already had a housing shortage and a high demand. Now, tech giant Intel Corp. is poised to bring thousands of new jobs to the region with a pair of semiconductor factories.

For the project to be a sustainable success, the region needs to increase its housing supply, Columbus Realtors CEO Brent Swander told Columbus Business First.

And the conversations about how to do that need to start immediately.

If they don’t, home prices will continue to skyrocket, Swander said.

“It’s economics 101, supply and demand,” Swander said.

Jon Melchi, executive director of the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, agrees. He said he believes communities are going to have to find ways to work collaboratively with the residential construction industry in order to accommodate the incoming jobs.

“A home is where a job goes to at night, and I think this is a perfect illustration of why housing is so vital to economic development,” Melchi said.

The BIA’s housing analysis found the region needed to be producing around 15,000 housing units per year, Melchi said. In in 2020, the most recent year with data available, the region built 11,800.

“We’re already 3,000 homes in the hole, right? So we need to get moving,” Melchi said. “Now we’re talking about adding more on top of what we projected, and I think that’s going to increase that demand. If we can build it adequately, it will help housing affordability at all price levels and help prevent people being priced out of housing.”

The Intel project is expected to create 3,000 direct jobs at the facilities, 7,000 construction jobs and “tens of thousands of additional indirect and support jobs including contracted positions, electricians, engineers, and jobs in restaurants, healthcare, housing, entertainment and more,” according to a news release. Factory positions will average salary of $135,000 per year, plus benefits.

Brian Schottenstein, president of Schottenstein Real Estate Group, said those high wages will drive up rents and home prices in the region, while also moving development eastward for proximity to the New Albany site.

“High-end multifamily housing and dense homes are needed in that area and really all around Central Ohio,” Schottenstein told Columbus Business First.

The surging demand could dovetail with existing residents’ resistance to denser development, something Melchi said local governments will need to be ready for.

“I would urge those local governments, with the same intensity and vigor that they use to help bring this opportunity to the region, to put those same resources into making sure we have housing … for those employees,” Melchi said.

Landing the facility required collaboration between local, state, and federal officials. Swander said this type of collaboration shows the possibilities that can occur when private and public sectors work together.

“When the private sector and public sector work together, these are the opportunities that make Central Ohio the place to work live, and play,” Swander said. “That collaborative spirit needs to come to housing as well, and the conversations have to start today.”

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