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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

‘Silicon heartland’ boon for Ohio, but families mourn at homes

JOHNSTOWN, Ohio ( Associated Press) — When President Joe Biden hailed a decision by Intel Corp. to create a $20 billion semiconductor operation on “1,000 vacant acres” in Ohio, it didn’t sit well with Tracy Corsi.

The 85-year-old woman lives on 7 acres of that land since she and her late husband Paul built a house there 50 years ago. They raised four children there and welcomed generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including some who lived right next door.

“You can see it’s not empty land,” Corsi said while sitting on his porch on a recent hot summer day.

Corsi and more than 50 other homeowners are not being forcibly removed at the Intel site. The two holding companies acting on Intel’s behalf have spent millions on offers to homeowners, often well above market rates. The companies paid Corsi just over $1 million, and Intel is placing him in a rented house before moving into his new home.

But money was never the issue, Corsi said.

“It was the happiness we had,” she said. “That’s what really hurts.”

Intel announces Ohio development Everything from phones to cars to home appliances came as part of the company’s efforts in January to address a global shortage of chips. It is the largest economic development investment in Ohio’s history.

“Silicon Heartland – a new epicenter of pioneering technology!” Intel CEO Patrick Gellinger tweeted about the announcement. An Ohio clothing company immediately followed suit with T-shirts declaring Ohio “The Silicon Heartland” with computers bearing the state’s seal.

Construction of the two factories, or fab, is expected to begin this year, with production going online at the end of 2025. The total investment could top $100 billion over a decade, with six additional factories down the road. The project is expected to create 3,000 company jobs with an average salary of $3,000 and 7,000 construction jobs. Dozens of Intel suppliers will provide more jobs.

Supporters promote both the project’s economic growth potential and its national security benefits. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the US share of the worldwide chip manufacturing market has declined from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, and shortages pose a potential risk.

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Biden has pushed for passage of the federal Chips for America Act, currently stalled in Congress, that would provide billions for semiconductor research and production. “The scope and speed of our expansion in Ohio will depend largely on funding from the Chips Act, although there is no indication that the project will proceed,” Intel spokeswoman Linda Qian said.

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To win the project, Ohio offered Intel about $2 billion in incentives., which also includes a 30-year tax break. Intel outlines $150 million in educational funding With the aim of developing the semiconductor industry at the regional and national level.

“If you travel 20 miles east of Columbus, Ohio, you’ll find 1,000 vacant acres,” Biden said during March’s State of the Union speech., “It won’t take much. But if you stop and look closely, you’ll see a field of dreams.”

At first blush, the plant’s futuristic location feels far from anything, surrounded by farms, fields, and homes located on multi-acre plots. In fact, it’s now part of the thriving city of New Albany—a ton of good schools and big homes with white fences lining the streets for miles. The city already has a large business park that employs 19,000 people, as well as Amazon, Facebook and Facebook. and google data centers.

New Albany took over Intel’s property, but it has had a major impact on nearby Johnstown, the current population of 5,200. And few families have been as deeply affected as the Corsi and his relatives.

His son, Paul Corsi Jr., lived next door on 3 acres where he was raising two grandchildren. He is relocating to 14 acres where he and his mother will live.

One of Tracy’s grandchildren, Tony Kelly, lives on 14 wooded acres with a pond down a door with his wife and daughters 5 and 7 years old. He offered about $1.7 million and bought 43 acres a few miles away.

Toni, 48, admitted that she was paid more than the value of her property. But he also recalled his heart attack and his wife’s ulcers while dealing with stress. And talks with the holding companies weren’t exactly a soft sell, warning of being in a “battle zone” of trucks and construction if they didn’t cooperate.

“There’s not even a gauge that can read how badly it’s affecting us,” he said. “It’s been terrible.”

The New Albany Company, a private real estate development firm that oversees offers to homeowners, recognizes that change is difficult, said development director Tom Rube.

“Our goal as we worked to help Ohio race for this transformative opportunity was to honor property owners and the disruption they faced as a result of selling their assets,” he said in a statement. “

New Albany Mayor Sloan Spalding understands the loss people are experiencing, especially those leaving their rural “forever home” of decades or more. But Ohio, which has just lost another congressional seat and has a stagnant population, could be transformed by Intel, he said.

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Even if the project pulls out-of-stateers, GOP Lt. Gov. John Husted said, “everyone who works at the plant will be an Ohioan.”

The development is viewed with mixed feelings, Tracy’s granddaughter, Tiffany Hollis, who lives in Johnstown, where she runs the dashing diner Uptown. Most of the day finds him working with his mother and daughter, serving up home-cooked meals including Tracy’s recipes for gravy and fried potatoes.

Tiffany, 45, spent several days at her grandmother’s estate and proudly displays photos of herself, her daughter Allie, and her daughter Amelia, all bathing in the same kitchen sink over the years.

Tiffany is torn by the project and its impact on her extended family, and fears her business will overtake chain restaurants. The family is not anti-Intel, she quickly points out that they use Intel products and believe that the semiconductors should be made on American soil. Intel is a great opportunity from a business perspective.

“But when your heart is with a place – we don’t want that to happen,” she said. “As you want it to happen, but not in your backyard.”

At Ground Zero of “Silicon Heartland,” the Corsi family spent the past few weeks saying goodbye to Tracy before leaving for good last week.

“That tree has been my neighbor for 50 years. Very sad to see that it is no longer there. Terrible,” she posted on Facebook when a centuries-old oak tree on a farm was cut down.

Tracy’s family removed a section of wall from their home, recording the height measurements of her great-grandson Luke. Tony used a forklift to remove a boulder at the end of the driveway, which the grandchildren once ran over and over. Paul Jr. wrapped crime scene tape around an ornamental cherry tree that was gifted by Paul Sr. to Tracy to save her from construction. Wall sections, stones and trees are all destined for Tracy’s new home.

Saving those artifacts offers Tracy some consolation. But they cannot replace the experience of sitting on her porch, sipping coffee in the morning while she watched the birds at the feeder. In recent days, Tracy knew she had to stop filling it up.

“Because they will depend on it,” she said. “And then when they’re up to it, when I’m gone, what are they going to do?”

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