Ohio needs 7,000 construction workers for Intel chip plants

August 30, 2022

Federal data shows about 45,000 home and commercial construction workers in central Ohio, a number that grew by 1,800 from May 2021 to May 2022, suggesting a future deficit given current and future demands (AP Photo: Paul Vernon)

If you work in construction and you’ve ever considered moving to Ohio, now might be the time as the state seeks 7,000 construction workers to build a $20-billion semiconductor manufacturing operation near the state’s capital.

The AP reports the project represents Ohio’s largest-ever economic development effort and it presents an employment challenge: how to find thousands of construction workers in an already booming building environment when there’s also a national shortage of people working in the trades.

Announced by Intel earlier this year, two factories, known as fabs, are expected to open in 2025 and employ 3,000 people with an average salary of around $135,000.

Before that happens, the 1,000-acre site must be leveled and the semiconductor factories built.

Construction is expected to accelerate following Congress’ approval last month of a package boosting the semiconductor industry and scientific research in a bid to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and help it better compete with international rivals. It includes more than $52 billion in grants and other incentives for the semiconductor industry as well as a 25% tax credit for those companies that invest in chip plants in the U.S.

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

Labor leaders and state officials acknowledge there’s not currently a pool of 7,000 extra workers in central Ohio, where other current projects include a 28-story Hilton near downtown Columbus, a $2 billion addition to The Ohio State University’s medical center, and a $365 million Amgen biomanufacturing plant not far from the Intel plant.

And that’s not counting at least three new Google and Amazon data centers, plans for a new $200 million municipal courthouse south of downtown Columbus and solar array projects that could require nearly 6,000 construction jobs by themselves.

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 given current and future demands.

“I don’t know of a single commercial construction company that’s not hiring,” said Mary Tebeau, executive director of the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio, a construction industry trade association, was quoted.

Offsetting the imbalance are training programs, a push to encourage more high school students to enter the trades, and pure economics. Including overtime, pay for skilled tradespeople could hit $125,000 annually, said Dorsey Hager, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbus Building Trades Council.

Or as Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, the state’s economic development point person, puts it, the Intel project is so big and lucrative it will create opportunities for people who didn’t see construction jobs in their future.

“When you’re willing to pay people more to do something, you will find the talent,” he said.

For the full story, click here.

MORE ARTICLES FROM CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 NEWS
Trimble invests in robotic layout of civil engineering
Startup Civ Robotics’ CivDot robot uses Trimble’s GNSS positioning technology and surveying software to improve productivity and safety on infrastructure layout
Trimble acquires B2W to connect civil contractors’ digital and physical management
B2W Software’s estimating and operations solutions enable end-to-end digital improvements to project profitability through the Trimble Construction One Portfolio
H&E Equipment Services expands into the Midwest with One Source acquisition
H&E Equipment Services will add One Source Equipment Rentals’ locations in Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama with a $130 million purchase