Biden in Ohio: ‘Bury’ the ‘Rust Belt’

Speaking on Friday at the groundbreaking of Intel’s new semiconductor factory in Licking County, Ohio, President Joe Biden said that “it’s time to bury the label ‘rust belt …’” when describing the region in which he stood. 

The ‘rust belt’ is a term often used to denote an area extending from Western New York through the Midwest that saw heavy industrial activity from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, particularly concerning steel production and automobile manufacturing. The region suffered significant economic decline by the late 20th century and many communities therein have struggled since. 

Biden said the arrival of Intel and other high-tech manufacturers in the area suggest people should now call the region the “silicon heartland.” 

Intel announced its intent to build its $20 billion campus in the Buckeye State eight months ago. Groundbreaking attendees suggested more such projects should be expected in the area in light of the recent enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion piece of legislation incentivizing manufacture of semiconductors and promoting other technological projects. In his remarks, Biden thanked both of Ohio’s senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, for their work toward passage of the act.

The president also acknowledged the strong backing given to the measure by the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers and the leadership of the AFL-CIO. Biden mentioned that the construction of Intel’s new facility, to be performed by about 7,000 workers, will be subject to a project labor agreement (PLA). Such an agreement sets the terms of employment for all workers at a site and nearly guarantees that the work will be reformed by union-affiliated tradesmen. 

“[PLAs] resolve disputes ahead of time, ensuring safer worksites … ,” Biden argued. “These agreements make sure construction is top-notch and projects are on time, on task and on budget.”

Some observers, like the Associated Builders and Contractors, contend however that PLAs introduce inefficiencies into construction projects and worsen work shortages. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Joe Biden” by The White House. Background Photo “Intel” by Almondox. CC BY 3.0.


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