JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (WCMH) – Licking County is getting ready for the arrival of Intel.
The tech giant is expected to start construction of its $20 billion computer chip manufacturing campus in the fall. The city of Johnstown’s border is just about a mile from where Intel will be. Some Johnstown residents are concerned about the development.
“I see the need for it, but I don’t see why they have to do it the way they’re doing. It’s just too much,” said Molly Gamertsfelder.
Gamertsfelder has lived in Johnstown, a city of about 5,100 residents, for 25 years. With Intel coming to the area, Gamertsfelder said she is worried that Johnstown will lose its rural feel.
“I think I can speak for everybody in saying we moved to Johnstown because we want to live in a rural environment, and we had no idea this was going to happen,” she said.
Her concern is shared with other residents who spoke at a Thursday night Johnstown Community meeting about Intel. The meeting was two-and-a-half hours long. Dozens of community members showed up and dozens had questions. Residents and neighbors also brought up concerns about the environmental effects of the campus, traffic, property taxes and transparency.
“I grew up in Johnstown my whole life and graduated. My family, we all live here, and we didn’t have our say in this at all,” said Nicole Booth.
The meeting also included a presentation about the growth the computer chip manufacturing campus will bring. Emily Smith, public affairs director for Intel, was also on the panel. She said the company is looking forward to more conversations with the community.
“You’ve invited me to your businesses, you’ve invited me to your farms, you’ve invited me to your schools, and we’re going to continue doing that because we’re going to all do this together and we’re going to be friends and neighbors for many many years to come,” she said.
Chip Dutcher, mayor of Johnstown, hoped the meeting would help calm some anxiety that’s been in the city since Intel’s announcement.
“I do think change is coming but I also think that we can do this in a way that we all end up being comfortable with, but nobody has a crystal ball on it,” said Scott Ryan with the Ohio Department of Development.
More meetings like Thursdays are being planned.