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Business & Economy

Ohio officials still mum about the incentives it used to lure Intel

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, center, speaks during the announcement on Friday Jan. 21, 2022 in Newark, Ohio.
Paul Vernon
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, center, speaks during the announcement on Friday Jan. 21, 2022 in Newark, Ohio, that Intel will invest $20 billion to build two computer chip factories on a 1,000-acre site in New Albany.

Intel is making a $20 billion dollar investment into a semiconductor chip manufacturing campus in central Ohio. It’s being heralded as one of the biggest facilities of its kind in the world. A lot of promises have been made but taxpayers don't know much about them right now.

Intel leaders said they considered 40 states for its multi-billion-dollar project. Gov Mike DeWine said he and other state and local leaders made sure Ohio came out on top.

“We worked, we fought and we won to bring these jobs to Ohio,” DeWine said.

It’s clear an incentive package has been offered to Intel but the details are unknown. JobsOhio and the state’s development leaders were involved in the deal. Lt. Gov Jon Husted hinted at the scope of it.

“For every $0.06 of capital investment the state of Ohio will make, Intel will make a dollar. In return, Ohio will get the largest, most advanced semiconductor facility in the world with jobs that pay, on average, $135,000 a year, which is approximately two-and-a-half times the median income of a family of four in Ohio. It's an investment that will literally pay dividends for generations,” Husted says.

When asked afterward specifics about what Ohio promised to put into the deal, DeWine wasn’t ready to tick off that list.

“We'll have the whole state investment. As Jon already said, it's over a billion dollars as far as the direct infrastructure. Look, when we found out on May 3 that they were looking, we knew there was a lot of states out there. But I said to our team, this is one we're going to go win,” DeWine says.

It's clear negotiations on the deal had been going on for months. The state budget passed last summer included a provision to double the length of state tax credits, from 15 to 30 years for so-called megaprojects with more than a billion dollars in investments. And state Route 161 into New Albany will be widened as part of the project. But beyond that, it's not clear what has been offered to the company. Gov. DeWine said he will give more details on the incentive package later.

Intel executives were not willing to talk about what else the state promised in the incentive package either. Keyvan Esfajani, the man who will oversee the Ohio Intel project, would only say the state made a strong offer.

“Ohio came in on the top, not just for one thing, but it was the entire package. No, if you look at Ohio from the completeness on those three elements that I talked about, Ohio comes to the top, the talent pool, the infrastructure, the regulatory environment and the team. We started this process. This team worked 24 by seven for the last nine months working with us. Everything we asked for, they came back even stronger. That's why we love Ohio,” Esfajani said.

Intel leaders are painting a bright future for the project, saying they’d like to expand beyond the initial two plants promised. They say the two plants expected to be built by 2025 on the 1,000 acre could be expanded to include eight factories, but they say that depends on Congress passing what’s known as the CHIPS Act, legislation that would make a $52 billion investment into companies that build semiconductor chips in the U.S.

That bill has passed the Senate, with both Ohio’s Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman supporting it. It also has bipartisan support in the U.S. House, where it passed last year but without the funding attached.

There are still questions and loose ends for this deal. State leaders are calling it the largest single private investment in Ohio history but at this point, it’s unclear if it is also the largest incentive package too.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.