Sep 9, 2022 - Business

Inside Friday's "Silicon Heartland" groundbreaking

An aerial shot of a field where an Intel project will soon be built.
An aerial look at the site in Licking County where Intel will build two new semiconductor factories. Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP

President Joe Biden is in rural Licking County today to celebrate the groundbreaking of Intel's new semiconductor factory site.

Why it matters: Groundbreaking ceremonies are often scripted, backslapping affairs for political dignitaries, but this marks an important milestone for a project with major regional and national implications.

  • Gov. Mike DeWine will also be in attendance.

State of play: Intel considered sites in 40 different states before announcing plans in January for a $20 billion project about 20 miles from downtown Columbus.

Yes, but: Intel waited on a more substantial federal investment before shoveling dirt.

Two important pipelines

The two fabrication plants being built in Ohio, along with ongoing Intel expansions in Arizona and New Mexico, are part of what Intel calls its "lab-to-fab" pipeline.

Separately, Intel is supporting semiconductor education programs at various Ohio universities and community colleges, including several in the Columbus area.

  • This will develop a homegrown talent pipeline to work in the industry, the company says.

The big picture: Together, these pipelines are meant to help the U.S. win a chip-making race against China ā€” which is building more than two-dozen of its own factories by 2024.

  • Having suffered from a global chip shortage during the pandemic, the countries want domestic production to supplant their reliance on overseas supply chains, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.

What he's saying: Ahead of the groundbreaking, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger credited leaders in Ohio and Washington "who share a vision to help restore the United States to its rightful place as a leader in advanced chipmaking."

  • "Today marks a pivotal moment in the journey to build a more geographically balanced and resilient semiconductor supply chain," he said in a statement.

What's next: It will take 7,000 construction workers three years to build the Licking County factories, which will open in 2025 with around 3,000 permanent employees.

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