Department of Commerce leaders host CHIPS meeting in Columbus

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U.S. Commerce Department officials met Tuesday in Columbus with leaders from Intel, labor unions and the construction industry as part of an effort to increase the number of women in the region’s booming construction industry.

The newly launched CHIPS Women in Construction Framework comes as work ramps up on Intel’s $28 billion project in New Albany, Licking County. It now employs about 1,800 workers and will add another 1,000 by the end of the year, according to a union. officially. Construction is also underway at other semiconductor sites in the country.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has set a goal to double the number of women in construction nationwide over the next decade, an effort she has dubbed the Million Women in Construction.

“To meet the economic and national security goals of the CHIPS and Science Act, we will need to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs we create, and that won’t happen if we don’t grow our construction workforce with more women. a Handel spokesperson said. “The CHIPS Women in Construction Framework brings together businesses, communities, workforces and other workforce training partners to develop the talent pipeline and ensure workplaces have the support systems they need.”

The roundtable included officials from Commerce’s CHIPS Program Office, Intel, the Ohio Construction Industry Act and the Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council. Other leaders from education, training, the workforce, the labor market and business joined them.

The Dispatch was not allowed to attend the meeting, but was informed by some participants about what had happened.

Intel and another semiconductor company, Micron, have made the first voluntary commitments to the framework. The effort is intended to spur completion of projects that have received funding from the federal $52.7 billion CHIPS and Science Act.

Intel has secured $8.5 billion in federal grants and is eligible for up to $11 billion in low-cost loans to help the semiconductor giant finance its $100 billion construction project across the country, including its New Albany project that is a regional cluster will be for American chip production.

As part of the framework, companies pledge to work with contractors, unions and other community and labor partners to increase the participation of women and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The meeting included an overview of federal and state efforts, as well as local strategies implemented by industry, labor and community partners to address the problem. It is also a discussion about identifying challenges and opportunities to further advance the participants’ goals.

The framework includes a set of principles that companies agree to, such as: setting targets and monitoring progress in the number of women in CHIPS-funded construction projects; building partnerships with community organizations that have a track record of involving women and others in the construction industry; developing training programs; and providing access to services such as child care.

The Biden administration estimates that the CHIPS Act and efforts to bring high-speed internet access to every American will create 200,000 construction jobs, saying there are not enough tradespeople to meet demand. Women currently make up less than 10% of the construction industry.

Intel’s projects in Ohio, Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon are expected to create 20,000 construction jobs, including 7,000 in Ohio.

Intel and labor leaders said Tuesday that the framework builds on steps they have already taken to increase the number of women in construction and boost spending with diverse suppliers.

“I’m excited about it,” said Mike Knisley, secretary-treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council. “Women are a big part of our workforce. We want them to be there. We want to grow that group.”

“Expanding manufacturing capacity quickly and safely is critical to increasing chip production in the United States. Including more women in construction is essential to achieving this goal and driving innovation and growth to achieve the goals of the CHIPS Act,” said Lindsay Hart Johnson, director of construction at Intel’s Ohio office, in a prepared release .

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@BizMarkWilliams