Sep 12, 2022 - Business

Scenes from an Intel groundbreaking

President Biden speaks at the Intel groundbreaking in front of a tractor draping an American flag.
President Joe Biden spoke of rebuilding U.S. manufacturing at Intel's groundbreaking on Sept. 9. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Your future boss is an 8-year-old Ohioan named Finn Ashby.

  • The science whiz from Licking County made such an impression at the Hartford Fair Intel booth that even company leadership took notice, inviting him to Friday's plant groundbreaking as a special guest.
  • "It's so nice to meet my future replacement," CEO Pat Gelsinger gleefully predicted on stage.

State of play: Friday's event was a bona fide who's who in government, business, labor and academia. The potpourri of dignitaries glad-handed and repeatedly shouted things like "Today's a great day!"

  • The groundbreaking had the buzz of the Arnold Sports Festival, if the enthusiasm for muscles were replaced with public-private partnerships.

Between the lines: Hours under a hot sun helped magnify the dizzying incongruity of this whole project, beyond the oddity of witnessing unbridled bipartisanship.

  • A $20 billion investment three times Ohio State's entire endowment toward what is now an empty farm field could eventually quintuple in size.
  • A project with sweeping trade, manufacturing and national security implications, one that President Joe Biden says will long be seen as a turning point in American history … all to produce computer chips the size of your fingertip.

What he said: "By choosing Ohio, Intel has recognized what we have known all along … [there is no] place that provides more opportunity than the state of Ohio," DeWine said.

  • The governor then channeled his inner LeBron James, pointing toward the open field and hinting at Intel expanding with more fabrication plants.
  • "[Workers will be] building the third and fourth fabs, the fifth and sixth fabs, and the seventh and eighth fabs, and on and on."

The intrigue: Amid hours of speeches, COSI president and CEO Frederic Bertley's reflections on this "monumental and unparalleled" project stood out.

  • Bertley noted the 1950s "Sputnik crisis" spurred the nation to embrace STEM education and eventually land on the moon with help from Ohio natives like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.
  • Listen to Bertley speak for just a few minutes and you'll be inspired to embark on a science project.

The big picture: Should all go to plan, Buckeye State innovators like Finn will prosper in STEM-focused K-12 programs, then study semiconductors at an Ohio college and eschew a coastal career in favor of a well-paying job in Licking County — fulfilling Gelsinger's prophecy.

The last word: "Made in Ohio, and Made in America, is no longer just a slogan," Biden said as tractors leveled dirt behind him. "It's happening."

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger joins President Biden and other Ohio political figures on a tour of the Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility site.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger leads President Biden, Rep. Joyce Beatty, Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine on a tour of the site. Photo: Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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