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How Intel Came To Ohio

By Former Sen. Bob Peterson
February 23, 2022
On The Record

Editor's Note:
This originally appeared in the WIlmington News Journal on 2/23/2022 as, "How Ohio landed Intel: Sudden success was a decade in the making." 

Be prepared.

It’s not just the Boy Scouts’ motto. It’s the key to a bright future for Ohio.

When Intel came calling, Ohio was prepared. Our state had begun laying the groundwork long before the deal was made. That was the key to landing the biggest private investment in state history.

A “megaproject” that could well turn our state into the home of the Silicon Heartland.

How did Ohio beat 39 other states to land the historic project? The road to success really began in 2011 with the creation of JobsOhio, a bold new idea of Gov. John Kasich’s. This private non-profit agency was designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in our state.

Our state’s lack of preparation needed to attract good jobs and big investments was proven when we lost the bid for the new Honda plant (and its 2,000 jobs) in 2006, which compelled me to run for the Ohio House in 2010.

I began introducing legislation years ago to streamline the process to attract “megaprojects” to Ohio. Letting companies know in advance what to expect would give us a clear advantage over other states.

Of course, a lot of negotiation on the finer points of any deal would still be required. But any company, especially the very largest manufacturers, are going to receive incentives.

Having a clear baseline of expectations built into our law would unfurl a huge welcome mat for megaprojects in Ohio.

Another key step was the “Beauty Park” legislation that I developed with then Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), now State Auditor, to remove barriers to “reshoring” of supply chain companies to Ohio by removing Commercial Activities Tax barriers that prevented them from locating in our state.

This simple tax change brought thousands of jobs and companies back to Ohio from other states and Mexico and China.

The “Megaprojects” Bill was the final step in the journey and was sparked by discussions with Economic Development specialists, JobsOhio and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) in 2017, specifically as Ohio was recruiting FoxConn and similar large companies. State Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and I wrote the “Megaprojects” Bill which ultimately became Senate Bill 45 and was introduced on Feb. 3, 2021.

A few months later, Intel contacted JobsOhio about finding a suitable location to build two semiconductor factories. The GOP-led Senate then amended SB 45 into the state budget. Everyone involved in the Intel deal says that caused Ohio to jump to the top of the site list.

“Until that passed, we weren’t in the game,” said Lt. Gov Jon Husted. “It was essential to even competing.”

Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted, with state and local officials, spent eight months selling Intel on Ohio’s advantages, benefits, and virtues. It worked.

“I want to give a lot of credit to the governor and lieutenant governor. They pursued us very aggressively,” Gelsinger said. Intel Vice President Keyvan Esfarjan added, “We could not be more impressed by the partnership that has developed with local and state leaders.”

The deal is expected to add almost $3 billion to the state’s annual gross state product and thousands of jobs with an annual average salary of $130,000 (Amazing!).

But that could be just the beginning of mushrooming tax revenues and job gains. Intel envisions turning the location into the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. The company hopes to invest a total of $100 billion in the project, growing the site to eight plants with 10,000 workers.

Gelsinger says each of those Intel jobs would create another 10 jobs provided by its suppliers and partners. 30 companies have already announced they will follow Intel to the area. He wants to make central Ohio “a magnet for the entire tech industry.”

That would have a major snowball effect, bringing to Ohio even more companies and more jobs, leading to better schools, more arts and entertainment, and adding to all of the things that make Ohio great.

I believe this is only the beginning and Ohio can become the home of a Silicon Heartland.