OHIO — There are major, multi-billion-dollar projects happening in Ohio.
Intel broke ground on its more than $20 billion project late last year. Honda recently broke ground on its $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery plant, and that’s just the start.
In the next few years, there will be nearly $200 billion worth of projects happening in Ohio that are expected to have a multigenerational impact—not just on the state, but on the country.
Leaders at an event held at the Local Union 189 Thursday called Columbus America’s “opportunity city,” and said Ohio is becoming the nation’s capital for upwards mobility.
The theme of the event was collaboration. To build advanced technology facilities like Intel and Honda, it takes local, state and national support.
“Billions of dollars of infrastructure and construction projects, they don't just fall out of the sky,” said Mike Knisley, secretary-treasurer Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council. “It takes numerous individuals, groups from state and local elected officials, just like you saw with Mayor Ginther here, economic development owners, community partners, signatory contractors that we can't go to work without, and our labor unions all working in collaboration, you're gonna hear that word a lot today, to pull this off.”
State-of-the-art high-tech equipment is being used to train and prepare apprentices and journey people to work on these projects.
“Ohio acted as the hub for Honda's overall manufacturing growth and across North America and it will act as the hub for Honda’s transformation and rebirth in North America,” said Darin Vojin, vice president of planning and strategy business unit for American Honda Motor Co. “And we're excited to be partnered again with the trades on the front end of that transformation.”
Right now, there are about 100,000 men and women who work in the skilled trades in Ohio and next year, industry leaders are estimating that 13 million hours are projected to be worked by those people as they build these projects.
“It is so exciting to be part of this and your members, your people will see how different it is to build a facility like this,” said Pat Miller, senior facilities manager/labor leader at Intel. “It's really, really exciting. We’re really excited to be here.”
For all the projects, both large and small, in Ohio the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council anticipates there will be more than 115,000 union workers that will work full time from 2023 to 2025. For the Intel project alone, the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council is expecting upwards of 6,000 to 8,000 people to work on that project at its peak, including any ancillary buildings.
“Join us in rebuilding America and join us in establishing your place in the middle class,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of the North America's Building Trades Unions, also known as NABTU. “Welcome to all these new members that are here today, and the hundreds of thousands that will come from these investments and good strong corporate partners like Intel and Honda's and others mentioned. We look forward to building this together as a team, as a community for the benefit of all in our country.”
McGarvey spoke about how the trades are continuing to diversify their workforce. They’re recruiting women and people of color, looking to open up opportunities for people that haven’t been there in the past. The president of the NAACP Columbus spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the trades.
“If we can value differences, value each other, confront our biases and that way our union and our workers will be so connected, we will be connected more so than ever before,” said Nana Watson, president of the NAACP Columbus. “I challenge you, call to action for you is to embrace diversity. I need you to step outside of your comfort zone. I need you to work with NAACP and Building Futures, to make sure that our union workers reflect the community that we live in. And we're going to take this journey with you hand in hand. And we're gonna make a difference in our unions.”
The president of Jobs Ohio said Ohio is the most economically diverse state in the Midwest. He said Ohio is a welcoming state, an affordable state, a diverse state, a friendly state, but also a competitive state and that Gov. Mike DeWine has encouraged them to keep the gas pedal down.
“It's a fierce competition for deals like Intel, Honda and others,” said JP Nauseef, president and CEO of JobsOhio. “And we in the past have competed and not been successful. But right now, we're still competing for over 15 what we call mega projects. They're projects that include at least a billion dollars of capital investment, $75 million, at least, of payroll, annual payroll, and an average wage of three times the federal minimum. And right now, our pipeline just in that category projects is up 700% from a normal year.”
Aside from the economic benefit for the state, many of the speakers highlighted how these projects and the jobs they are providing are going to impact real lives and uplift communities for generations.
“Thank you to the local 172 ironworkers, it's not every day that you go to a job interview and you tell him that you struggled with drugs and alcohol and that you've been to prison twice and in and out of jail and stuff like that, and they hire you,” said Charles Straley, a Building Futures Graduate of Ironworkers Local 172. “My life has completely changed today. This is a miracle. I don’t only have a career, I don’t only have insurance, I don't only have benefits, I run work, I’m a family man, I just had a son, I’m engaged today. I’m out here trying to help my community and trying to help people go through the same path that I went through.”
The speakers said there has never been a brighter future for people who work in the trades. Ohio is home to many multi-year projects and many have only just begun.
“Now let’s get to work and build an incredible future that our kids and our grandkids are going to be proud of,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said.
To learn more about pursuing a career in the trades you can visit here.