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Calfee NOW: Ohio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Stivers on Intel

On episode 25 of Calfee NOW, Leah Pappas Porner, Partner-in-Charge of Calfee's Columbus office and Chair of the firm's Government Relations and Legislation practice, and Nick Bush, Principal with Calfee's Federal Government Relations and Policy group, spoke with Steve Stivers, President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and former U.S. House Representative. 

Topics discussed included:

  • How the Ohio Chamber is embracing the news of Intel committing $20 billion to build a new chip manufacturing mega-site in Columbus, Ohio and how the Chamber will support Intel with this project. 
  • The Chamber's plans to work with Congress to pass the CHIPS for America Act, which establishes investments and incentives to support U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
  • How the Chamber is helping Intel get integrated into the Ohio community. 
  • The advantages Ohio has and how the state is competing as a destination for businesses with other locations around the country.

Calfee NOW: Intel Series with Steve Stivers

Watch the full episode. 

Video Transcript

Nick Bush:

All right. I would like to welcome everybody to another episode of Cal. Now, today we've got Steve Stivers, a friend, my former boss in Congress, uh, to join us. As many of you know, Steve's worn many hats on his career, uh, having started in the private sector before serving in the Ohio Senate, and has spent the last 10 years in the US House representatives all while continuing a decorated military career where he still serves, correct me if I'm wrong, as Brigadier General and the Ohio National Guard. Um, he's put on a new hat as the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Um, looking forward to, uh, discussing your work with the Chamber and, um, your take on all the exciting economic development projects happening here in Ohio. So thanks for joining us today.

Steve Stivers:

Thanks, Nick. It's great to be on, uh, your video blog with, uh, now, and excited to talk about the amazing things going on in Ohio, uh, and how folks can be part of it.

Nick Bush:

Well kick things off. Uh, you know, you're back in Ohio after spending 10 years in Washington. How has that experience in DC sort of informed your leadership of the Chamber, um, and how does that set your goals for where, where you want to take the state of, uh, the Ohio economy?

Steve Stivers:

Well, I've always tried to work on issues that help people, uh, whether when I was in Congress working on the PAWS Act, that helps veterans that have post-traumatic stress get access to service dogs that can transform their lives. Whether I worked on the Higher At Home Act, whether I worked on legislation to help people that are homeowners, uh, or become homeowners, um, you know, I, I worked on 22 pieces of legislation, uh, in my time in Congress, and the common thread was trying to help people. Uh, you know, coming back to the Chamber of Commerce, the way we can help people is having a growing economy where jobs are plentiful, people can earn good wages, and have a great quality of life. And that's what the Chamber focuses on, is free enterprise and opportunities to grow our economy that benefit all 11 million Ohioans. Nick,

Nick Bush:

That's awesome.

Leah Pappas Porner:

Steve. By now the world has heard of Intel's announcement to bring two central Ohio, potentially a $20 billion investment. Tell us how the Ohio Chamber is embracing this fabulous news for our state, and what, as you look for your work and, and your team's work towards the Intel opportunity, tell us a little bit about that.

Steve Stivers:

Great, well, thank you Leah. It's great to have Intel coming to Ohio, coming to Central Ohio, a 20 billion investment. You know, this is a generational change, uh, that's not only going to impact the Ohio economy and the workforce here, but it's going to change the image of Ohio. We're going to leave behind that rust belt image that people think of when they think of the Midwest, and we're now the silicone heartland, and it's a big deal. Do you, do you have t-shirt? Do you have your, I don't, I got to get one of those t-shirts, but, um, you know, the Chamber's been doing a every other week call with the, with Intel to talk about what's going on and how we can be helpful. They've just announced their first hire. They're going to be hiring a few more people. Uh, I've had, uh, a long conversation with the new plant manager who's coming from Arizona, who will manage this fab or these fabs in Ohio.

Uh, he's got a compelling story. He went to community college and then he worked his way up at Intel and he's going to be running the biggest chip manufacturing plant in the world when we get done, and it's going to be here in Ohio. So he brought his kids and his wife here to Ohio on spring break. I guess that's what you do when you're from Arizona. But, um, it's excited to, exciting to see this start to happen. They're going to start moving dirt here this summer. Things are starting to really happen, but more importantly, they're trying to build an Ohio supply chain. When you think about the thousands and thousands of jobs and thousands of suppliers it's going to take, uh, to, to make this happen, we need to build an ecosystem around it. There's a lot of companies in Ohio that are doing things that could be suppliers to Intel.

We just sent out an email to all 8,000 chamber members showing them how they could be an Intel supplier and linking them with Intel's, uh, portal to become a supplier for Intel. And we send it to all 400 local chambers around the state and ask them to send it to their members. Cuz we want to build that Ohio supply chain for Intel. And that's one of the most important things we can all do as Ohioans, is make sure that the suppliers, uh, many of them are here in Ohio and get companies that maybe aren't in Ohio to move here to be suppliers. So we're excited about that. Uh, in Congress, we're going to work the halls of Congress on the Chips Act. Uh, you know, it's a 52 billion funding that is, uh, about onshoring, uh, a key national security item, uh, semiconductors. And, you know, as a general in the National Guard, I know how important the national security aspect of these chips are.

And it's not because they're in our cars and our phones. They're in our tanks, they're in our missiles, they're in our weapons systems. These are national security items, and we need to treat 'em that way. And that's why the CHIPS act is so important. And so my lobbying bands up in Congress on May 17th, and I'm going to be in Congress within a couple weeks after that to lobby them about getting the CHIPS Act done because it's so important for Ohio and our businesses, but for our national security. So I'm excited to be working on that. The Chamber's also continuing to work to bring Intel into our communities and introduce them to, uh, folks that they're going to be working with so that they get to know them, whether they're, you know, a direct supplier or an indirect supplier of the thousands of people that will be working for Intel.

So we're super excited about introducing Intel to the Ohio community, and they're going to be sponsoring some of our events coming up and be attending. Um, like I said, they've hired a couple Ohio people now. They're going to probably start, uh, in earnest hiring over the next few months, but obviously it's going to take them about a year to build the fabs. So, you know, they're going to be moving dirt this summer, next summer. They'll start really, um, finishing some things and it'll really be, um, 2024 before we see semiconductors rolling out of their fabs, uh, that are finished products. So they've got to build a supply chain, build a factory, and hire a bunch of people, uh, to, uh, to work there. So, uh, it's going to be, uh, an amazing thing to watch. And we've got to start importing people into Ohio, Leah. We're just not going to have enough people to do all the jobs that are here.

And so the chamber's going to be focused on some things that a chamber might not normally be focused on, focusing on a sense of place. You know, we don't have oceans in Ohio, but if you're sitting on the shore of Lake Erie, you would never know it. We don't have mountains in Ohio, but if you're hiking the Hawking Hills, you would never know it. So we've got to sell what we have. We might want to add to what we have. We're working with the Haslam family to do some expansion and public private partnerships on the Lake Erie to make the lake accessible, meaningful, and have things that people can do there. Not just going to the beach on the lake, but actually having shopping and restaurants a public, private accessible, uh, facility that's on and close to the lake so that people can have an amazing experience there, like people do on Lake Michigan and Chicago.

Leah Pappas Porner:

It's an exciting opportunity, there's no doubt about it. And I think it's also exciting for Ohioans, you know, listening to you describe Ohio and how diverse Ohio is. This isn't an exciting opportunity from, uh, a new workforce opportunity and a new image for our state. So...

Steve Stivers:


Leah Pappas Porner:

Happy to hear you say.

Nick Bush:

Who grew up as someone who grew up on Lake Erie. It, it's good to see that progress being made of the potential we've always seen. Um, so we're looking forward to, to seeing that come to fruition. And you mentioned a lot of things that Ohio has to offer. You know, we're growing clearly as a destination, not just for Intel. There have been other large economic announcements over the years transitioning away from that Rust Belt, uh, uh, reputation that you mentioned. What, what do you think makes Ohio this destination that lets us compete, uh, against some other juggernauts around the country?

Steve Stivers:

You know, we have several things that make Ohio great. Uh, one is our location. We're within a car ride, an eight hour car ride of 60% of the US population. More importantly a truck ride, uh, for parts and, uh, and uh, uh, things that are made. So our, our location, uh, is a competitive advantage. Um, and the fact that we have colleges and universities, we have more colleges and universities. Um, we're third in the United States and colleges and universities. People come into Ohio to go to college. Uh, and so that linkage with higher ed is important for engineers and STEM and people that need professional degrees. But we have an amazing community college system that is funded better than almost any in the country that helps with those certifications and tech technical degrees that aren't four year degrees that can get people in the workforce sooner.

And we have great vocational technical training in Ohio through our career and technical education programs. So, um, and we have a workforce that has an amazing work ethic because, you know, they're hearty people. They've got to make it through the winters in Cleveland, so they want to work hard and be industrious. And, uh, it's, it makes a difference, uh, to have people with an amazing work ethic. And we have a low cost of living both for businesses and individuals and a high quality of life. You know, I lived in Chicago for about a year when Bank One merged with First Chicago. And, um, going to the grocery store was a hassle. Getting a parking spot was a hassle. Commuting to work every day was a hassle. Going to the airport was a hassle. Going downtown or going out to Rush Street to have fun was a hassle because it's such a big city.

The great thing about Ohio City, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, is that they're big enough to give you whatever you want, but they're small enough that you don't face those hassles that you do in Washington DC or Los Angeles or, or Chicago or New York. You know, the big cities, or God forbid San Jose, San Francisco where you sit in traffic for an hour if you want to pay less than $2 million for a thousand square feet. So it's, um, you know, we have affordable housing here. We have a lot of things going for us that gives us a high quality life with a low cost of living.

Nick Bush:

That's, that's excellent. You, you mentioned the CHIPS Act and, and the great, you know, opportunities that Ohio offers, you know, what are some of the things that you see the state and federal government can do just to, to keep this type of economic development continuing in our state and region?

Steve Stivers:

Well, that's an excellent question, Nick. And, you know, I'm convinced that we've got to fix our workforce development programs. You know, uh, we, Ohio probably gets a hundred million dollars in, uh, we owe of funding and, um, a lot of it funds infrastructure and funds these boards and people that aren't connected to the jobs that are here today and the jobs that are coming for tomorrow. We've got to create better connections between the companies I represent at the Chamber and the employees and students that are graduating through K12 in college and community colleges. Um, and, and I don't think any state has that figured out as the great news, if we're the first state to figure it out, we're going to be a giant winner. And, uh, we've got a meeting coming up with jobs and family services to talk about that and talk about how we could, you know, focus that money where it'll make a bigger difference.

Cuz we do have the institutions that I talked about that should and could be leveraged so much more. And we're not talking about building a bunch of capacity. We have career and, and technical vocational training in Ohio at the high school level. And, you know, those schools empty out about 3:00 PM We could leverage those for adult training in the evening without hardly any additional expenditure other than staffing. So the big fixed expenses are pretty solid. Uh, we need to leverage the people and the programming to get people the skills they need that are connected to the jobs of the future. And that's the connection that I don't think any state has figured out very well to connect those employers with the educational assets and funding to get the, the people, the training they need. Uh, and I think, uh, if we figure it out, I think we're going to be a big winner. Uh, between that and the fact that we have 150 years of water compared to Arizona and California and Texas, uh, the next a hundred years are going to be pretty bright for a while.

Leah Pappas Porner:

It's exciting and it's exciting to hear you say it. You know, Nick and I and the others at Cal are around this conversation, but listening to you kind of summarize it for Nick and I and all those that are watching it, it is an exciting place to live, work, and play. And we join you in the effort to bring businesses here and help them survive. And so we thank you for, uh, the conversation today and your leadership in that area. And anytime we can help the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, please call and, and you have friends here at Cal wanting your success because, uh, when Ohio grows, we all grow. So thank you for your efforts and for your time today.

Steve Stivers:

Thanks Leah, and Cal's a great partner in all these efforts and it's a pleasure to chat with you today. We look forward to continued success and working with you and a lot of your, uh, clients in the future to grow Ohio. Thank you. Thanks. Appreciate the time. Thanks Nick. Thank you.

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