COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With details still scarce in the case of a massive computer chip factory coming to New Albany, public records and past development projects may shed light on what could become one of the largest investments in Ohio history.
Jersey Township trustee Ben Pieper told NBC4 on Thursday that the project is indeed happening, confirming days of rumors. New Albany City Council last week annexed 3,190 acres of township land on the Franklin-Licking county line for the project.
Cleveland.com was the first to report the company behind the project, who sources told them was California tech giant Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue.
Semiconductors are the brains of electronics. Crucial to modern technology, the tiny computer chips are meticulously made in massive, ultraclean facilities. A chip shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected production of cars, medical devices, home electronics and more.
Intel, New Albany plans hint at project details
In an August interview with The Washington Post, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company was talking with different states who had given them proposals for a new, “very large” site.
“It’s a project over the next decade on the order of $100 billion of capital, 10,000 direct jobs. 100,000 jobs are created as a result of those 10,000, by our experience,” he told the Post. “So, essentially, we want to build a little city.”
“We’re engaging with a number of states across the United States today who are giving us proposals for site locations, energy, water, environmentals, near universities, skill capacity,” Gelsinger continued, “and I expect to make an announcement about that location before the end of this year.”
An announcement of the New Albany plant is expected a week from Friday, on Jan. 21, The Statehouse News Bureau reported Thursday night.
A few days before then, a resolution on the New Albany City Council agenda for Tuesday calls for the city to accept nearly $10 million in economic development funds. The resolution includes $7 million “for construction and equipment related to water, sewer and road improvements for future economic development opportunities.”
Another $800,000 in the resolution would cover “costs of professional services including, but not limited to, engineering, plan design and legal counsel, for economic development projects.”
The New Albany plant may not come together very quickly, though. Pieper told NBC4 the development will be a 10-year project.
Intel CEO, Arizona campus provide factory clues
After Gelsinger laid out his plan for “a little city,” the Post interviewer remarked that “it sounds a lot like Intel’s version of the Amazon HQ2 contest in a lot of ways.”
“A little bit so,” Gelsinger replied. He said Intel sites in Oregon, Arizona, Israel and Ireland have “become hubs for those entire communities, and we’ve seen in all of our locations, it brings suppliers. Other companies come into it.”
“You know, university, community college, training programs, the need for schools, restaurants, et cetera, these are really just such spectacular projects, and if you go to those communities, it’s been just entirely transformational for them,” he said. “And that’s what we want to do. We want to build that kind of capability to even expand even further on U.S. soil.”
The U.S. makes just 12% of semiconductors worldwide, according to an industry group’s 2020 report, down from 37% in 1990. By comparison, East Asia accounts for 75% of global capacity.
Intel’s Arizona computer chip campus sits on 700 acres in Chandler, outside Phoenix, and its Oregon operations spread out over four campuses in Hillsboro, outside Portland. New Albany annexed about 3,200 acres for the central Ohio project, nearly half of Jersey Township.
Some of the largest factories on the two campuses are 1 million or 2 million square feet, the size of tens of football fields.
The company, its foundation and employees “are committed to the community, with millions in grants, donations, and in-kind gifts to local Arizona schools, universities, and non-profits each year,” Intel notes on its website.
The company also plans by 2030 to reach 100% renewable energy use and have its computing operations be carbon neutral. The Chandler facility, for example, has 3 million square feet (69 acres) of solar panels.
Intel announced a $20 billion expansion of its Chandler facility in September — the largest private-sector investment ever in Arizona — with two new computer chip factories the company said would create more than 3,000 jobs plus 3,000 construction jobs, per Phoenix news radio station KTAR.