From Ohio Business Growth Guide 2024

Where Big Tech Companies Make Big Investments

Ohio helps it technology startups grow.

A rendering of Intel’s processor factories in Licking County, where production is scheduled to begin between 2026 and 2027.
Rendering courtesy of Intel

by Mark Arend

ow many of Ohio’s 6,200 tech industry graduates each year will launch their careers at Intel’s microchip factories in Licking County near Columbus? A lot, most likely. Many more will find their dream job at one of the many supplier companies that already have announced projects nearby.

In January 2022, Intel announced plans to invest more than $20 billion to construct two chip factories on a 1,000-acre site that has room for six more. When those are built, Intel will have invested $100 billion in the complex. In March 2024, Intel and the Department of Commerce signed a preliminary memorandum of terms whereby the chip giant would receive up to $8.5 billion of CHIPS and Science Act funding. Some of that would be earmarked for investments in other sites.

The initial phase will create 3,000 Intel jobs, but many more thousands will be created as the suppliers and partner operations come online. Four had indicated plans to establish operations in the region at the time Intel announced its Ohio plans — Applied Materials (equipment, services and software), LAM Research (wafer-fabrication equipment), Air Products (industrial gases and equipment) and Ultra Clean Technology (critical subsystems, cleaning and analytical systems).

“Intel’s announcement to build its latest manufacturing facility in Ohio is an exciting step forward for the U.S. semiconductor industry,” said Tim Archer, president and CEO of Lam Research, in an Intel release. “Ohio offers access to a diverse workforce, robust infrastructure and a great education system, and we are committed to growing our own capabilities in the region to support Intel’s success.”

Net tech employment in Ohio is nearly 269,000 workers — that’s s a combination of tech occupation jobs and tech industry jobs — according to the State of the Tech Workforce 2024 report from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). That’s 4.7% net employment as a percentage of Ohio’s overall workforce. The state is home to 21,098 technology business establishments, notes CompTIA, and the estimated direct economic impact of the technology sector is $33.7 billion.

Billions With a ‘B’
Speaking of billions of dollars, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced in June 2023 a $7.8 billion investment to expand its data center operations in central Ohio. AWS already has data centers in Franklin and Licking Counties and employs close to 1,000 Ohioans.

 “Since 2015, AWS has invested more than $6 billion in Ohio while supporting thousands of local jobs,” noted Roger Wehner, director of economic development, in a statement. “This additional investment will bring new, well-paying jobs and will continue to boost the state’s gross domestic product each year.”

AWS estimates it has contributed more than $2 billion in economic benefit to Ohio already.

“Technology is evolving at breakneck speeds, as we have seen with the rapid growth of AI, and those states with the strongest cloud computing capabilities will have a competitive advantage for the jobs that rely on that computer infrastructure,” said Chris Berry, president of OhioX, a nonprofit membership organization that supports and connects Ohio’s innovation communities. “Since AWS’s arrival in 2016, Ohio has played a global role in powering all things technology — helping grow new startups, support our largest new enterprises, deliver innovation to government agencies, and help our businesses become more agile and innovate faster.”

Also in the billions of dollars, Google weighed in with a $1.7 billion capital investment announcement in August 2023. It will expand its data center in New Albany, which opened in 2019, and build new data centers in Lancaster and Columbus.

Making Capital Accessible
Ohio technology companies seeking a role in the state’s IT ecosystem got a boost in August 2023 with the launch of two funds designed to facilitate growth of homegrown tech companies. The Ohio Early Stage Focus Fund targets startup tech companies owned by women or minorities or are located in areas with limited access to venture capital. Investment managers can apply for $1 million to $5 million of the fund’s $36 million. The Ohio Venture Fund makes capital available to investment funds seeking to work with Ohio technology companies through Series A financing. Investors can apply for $5 million to $10 million of the fund’s $75 million.

“Venture capital isn’t just an investment; it’s a catalyst for innovation and a testament to the power of bold ideas here in Ohio,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted at the launch of the two funds. “Venture capital fuels the dreams that redefine industries, empowering pioneers to shape the future we envision today. This will help pave the way for sustained technological advancement and further reinforce Ohio’s position as the Silicon Heartland.”

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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