What should Congress do to support Ohio’s technology companies?

A rendering shows early plans for two new leading-edge Intel processor factories in Licking County.

Intel’s decision to invest $20 billion in a semiconductor chip facility outside of Columbus is a prime example of how a new generation of organized labor can simultaneously help address a dire global supply chain shortage of chips used in everything from phones to cars and rebuild the middle class .

These investments in Ohio’s innovation economy are grabbing headlines for many worthy reasons.

They will bring 3,000 company tech sector jobs to central Ohio and will help alleviate national security concerns by reducing US reliance on chips manufactured abroad.

Intel to employ 3,000:Intel picks Greater Columbus for $20 billion semiconductor factory to employ 3,000 workers

Intel’s investments will also create thousands of blue-collar, union construction jobs.

The jobs pay the industry standard with health and pension benefits so that workers can take care of their families and then retire with the dignity and financial security they deserve at the end of their careers.

Dorsey Hager is the executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents more than 18,000 workers from 18 affiliated local unions and district councils.

After decades of misguided, uncompetitive policy from politicians in Washington, manufacturing has offshored and declined. Americans have lost access to good-paying union jobs, and communities continue to struggle.

In Ohio, we unfortunately know this story all too well.

Manufacturing comeback:Intel chip factory is part of Ohio’s plan to regain its status as manufacturing powerhouse

Thankfully, as the Intel facility underscores, the technology sector isn’t just about people behind computer screens. It’s also about people in hard hats—and it is integral to rebuilding the middle class in this country.

Rich Uhlig, managing director of Intel Labs, holds one of Intel's Nahuku boards, each of which contains eight to 32 Intel Loihi neuromorphic chips.

As the head of the Columbus Building Trades Council, my unions and I are tasked with recruiting, hiring, and training the specialized workforce needed to build and maintain the new Intel facility. The wages for these 7,000 construction jobs are a game changer, with the average annual salary exceeding $100,000 and some salaries reaching as high as $175,000.

The technology sector employs nearly 400,000 Ohioans and has an estimated direct impact of $35 billion on Ohio’s economy. Those numbers, which are only going to increase, don’t even account for the indirect impact of the sector.

Keep tech alive:Don’t let American technology suffer the same fate as manufacturing

It is incumbent upon organized labor to embrace that reality and recruit and prepare the workforce of the future, just as we are gearing up to do with Intel here in Columbus. At the root of it, policymakers in Washington must do their part and foster an environment that enables innovation and technology to flourish.

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