Ohio is looking for 7,000 construction workers for future Intel chip plant. : NPR

Taylor Purdy, a pipe class with Complete General Construction, answers questions about his experience working around the construction site of Intel’s new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Johnstown, Ohio.

Paul Vernon / AP

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Paul Vernon / AP

Taylor Purdy, a pipe class with Complete General Construction, answers questions about his experience working around the construction site of Intel’s new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Johnstown, Ohio.

Paul Vernon / AP

JOHNSTOWN, Ohio – Ohio’s largest-ever economic development project comes with a huge jobs challenge: how to find 7,000 construction workers in an already built environment boom when the country also lacks people working in these occupations.

Within reach is a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing operation near the state capital, announced by Intel earlier this year. When the two factories, known as fabs, open in 2025, the facility will employ 3,000 people with an average salary of about $135,000. Before that happens, the 1,000-acre site must be razed and semiconductor factories built.

“This project has resonated across the country,” said Michael Engbert, an Ohio-based official with the International Labor Union of North America. “We don’t get field calls every day from members hundreds or thousands of miles away asking about moving to Columbus, Ohio,” he said. “That’s because they knew Intel was coming.”

To win the project, Ohio offered Intel about $2 billion in incentives, including a 30-year tax break. Intel has outlined $150 million in education funding aimed at growing the semiconductor industry regionally and nationally.
Construction is expected to accelerate after Congress approved last month a bid to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and help it. better compete with international competitors. It includes more than $52 billion in grants and other incentives for the semiconductor industry as well as a 25% tax credit for companies investing in chip factories in the US.

For the Ohio hub project, all 7,000 workers were not immediately claimed. They are also only part of what will be needed as the Intel project transforms hundreds of acres of largely rural land about 30 minutes east of Columbus.
For example, just six months after Intel revealed its Ohio operation, Missouri-based VanTrust Real Estate announced that it is building a 500-acre (200 ha) business park next to its suppliers. Intel level. Its 5 million square feet (464,515 square meters) of land is equivalent to nearly nine football fields. Other projects for additional vendors are expected.

California-based Intel will draw on lessons learned in building previous semiconductor sites nationally and globally to ensure adequate construction workers are available, the company said in a statement.

One of Intel’s top reasons for choosing Ohio was its access to the region’s strong workforce, the company said. “There won’t be its challenges, but we believe there is enough demand for these jobs to be filled.”

Labor leaders and state officials admit there are currently no additional 7,000 workers in central Ohio, where other current projects include the 28-story Hilton hotel near downtown Columbus, adding 2 billion dollars for the Ohio State University medical center and a $365 million Amgen fund. biomanufacturing plant not far from the Intel factory.

And that’s not to mention at least three new Google and Amazon data centers, plans for a new $200 million city court south of downtown Columbus, and solar array projects. may require nearly 6,000 construction work. Federal data shows about 45,000 home and commercial construction workers in central Ohio. That number increased by 1,800 from May 2021 to May 2022, meaning a future deficit due to current and future demand.

“I don’t know of a commercial construction company that doesn’t hire,” said Mary Tebeau, executive director of Builders Exchange of Central Ohio, a construction industry trade association. Compensating for the imbalance are training programs, an incentive to encourage many high school students to enter the professions, pure economics. Dorsey Hager, executive secretary and treasurer of the Columbus Building Board of Trade, said that including overtime, wages for skilled workers can reach $125,000 per year. Or as Lieutenant General Jon Husted, who directs the state’s economic development, puts it, the Intel project is so big and lucrative, it will create opportunities for people who don’t see construction work in their future.

“When you’re willing to pay people more to do something, you find talent,” he said. In addition to new and out-of-state workers, some will likely be withdrawn from the housing construction industry, said Ed Brady, CEO of the Washington, DC-based Home Builders Institute. The supply of builders is already in short supply.

That creates the risk of a housing shortage that could slow the kind of economic development Intel is promoting, said Ed Dietz of the National Association of Home Builders.

“How do you attract those business investments if you also can’t provide more available housing for workforce growth?” he say.
Central Ohio is expected to reach 3 million residents by 2050, a rate that will require 11,000 to 14,000 housing units per year. That was before Intel was announced, said Jennifer Noll, associate director of community development for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Meanwhile, the closest region to that goal is in 2020 with 11,000 units.
“We knew we had some work to do as a region,” Noll said.

Missing or not, work is underway at and near the Intel site, where convoys of trucks rumbled through country roads on a recent August morning as the beeps of multiple construction vehicles sounded in the distance. .
It’s just another day for pipeworker Taylor Purdy, who regularly drives 30 minutes from Bangs, Ohio to his construction job, helping to widen a road that runs alongside the Intel factory.

Purdy, 28, spends her days in trenches helping to locate sanitary sewers and water lines. Overtime is plentiful as the deadline approaches. Intel’s construction work is in its early stages as reclamation companies reshape 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of former agricultural and residential land being converted into an industrial park.

Purdy said he enjoys the job security involved in such a large project. He also found that, unlike other jobs he had done, he didn’t need to explain his intentions to people.
“They all know what I’m talking about,” he said.

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