Ohio officials push back on concerns that Intel project is delayed
State officials are pushing back on suggestions that the massive Intel computer chip manufacturing facility in central Ohio might be delayed because a groundbreaking set for next month has been scrapped.
The postponement of that event appears to be related to a multi-billion dollar federal deal that hasn’t moved in months.
When Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger announced the project in Newark in January, he said: "We’re making this bet today assuming the CHIPS Act gets passed.”
That bipartisan bill would put $52 billion in federal money into chip investment and research.
Construction has been going on at the site in Licking County for weeks. But apparently a ceremonial groundbreaking set for next month is off.
Intel said in a statement: “We are excited to begin construction on a new leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing plant in Ohio and grateful for the support of Governor DeWine, the state government and all our partners in Ohio. As we said in our January announcement, the scope and pace of our expansion in Ohio will depend heavily on funding from the CHIPS Act."
The statement added that the CHIPS Act is moving slowly which is causing uncertainty in the industry.
"It is time for Congress to act so we can move forward at the speed and scale we have long envisioned for Ohio and our other projects to help restore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing leadership and build a more resilient semiconductor supply chain,” a statement from Intel said.
The CHIPS Act passed the U.S. Senate last summer and passed the U.S. House in February, after the Intel project was announced.
But differences between the House and Senate versions need to be worked out. Democrats have wanted to pass the CHIPS Act as part of the $300 billion America COMPETES Act. But Republicans are concerned about that cost, though Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, has supported the CHIPS Act.
The office of Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, urged that the postponement of the event does not signal a delay in the overall Intel project.
A statement from DeWine's spokesman said: "Preparations continue on this project. Governor DeWine agrees with Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger that Congress should swiftly pass the CHIPS Act so this project can expand quickly."
The spokesman added that he's not aware of the office receiving statements from Intel like those reported by other media outlets suggesting a long-term delay, and that "Mr. Gelsinger spoke with Governor DeWine by phone earlier this week." He didn't disclose what they spoke about.
But Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a Republican, said in a text that Intel did not feel it was appropriate to have a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Licking County site on July 22 without the CHIPS Act in place.
Husted added that, "I don't blame Intel for being frustrated with Congress. To win dominance in computer chip manufacturing, China and the EU have taken action while leaders in Washington dither. Ohio has done all Intel has asked and they have reassured us that the first [$20 billion] phase of the project will go forward as planned."