By Corey Paul
President Obama gave full credit to Intel Friday for investing and manufacturing in the United States as part of an ongoing campaign to improve relations with the business community.
"You are a company that understands that investing in education is good for business and good for the bottom line," Obama told a group of Intel executives and engineers assembled at Ronler Acres in Hillsboro.
Intel's success and job creation stand apart from the economic malaise suffered by the rest of the country, which makes it a situation that the President, beat up over jobs, wants to trumpet.
Intel's construction of a new fab in Hillsboro, called D1X, will create thousands of temporary construction jobs, and when it's completed in 2013, about 1,000 permanent manufacturing jobs paying about $120,000 each per year. Intel is Oregon’s most significant private sector employer, with over 15,000 jobs and a statewide payroll of $1.8 billion.
The president said Intel should serve as a model for other global companies considering expanding domestically. He also warned, "If we want to make sure Intel doesn't go overseas we need to invest in our people, our schools."
Before Obama spoke, a PhD engineer guided him through the D1D factory, where Transition Electron Microchips are produced. He also met with two finalists of an Intel-sponsored science contest.
Only about 200 people were allowed to watch the president speak at a small auditorium inside the Intel compound. A hundred of those attendees were Intel executives and common employees chosen by lottery, while 30 were students, and the rest where White House invites, including local politicians and dignitaries.
Among them were Gov. John Kitzhaber and his predecessor, Ted Kulongoski. Kitzhaber planned to meet later with the president with a list of points about developing Oregon.
Kitzhaber acknowledged that tension exists between tax incentives for companies such as Intel and funds for education. "The answer will be to change the education model that we have," he said.
Obama recently named Intel CEO Paul Otellini to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which will focus promoting growth and hiring, while attracting businesses to the United States.
Obama's appointment of Otellini and their joint appearance Friday seemed to suggest an improved relationship between the President and the Intel CEO, who has been critical of the President's economic approach.
Otellini was upbeat during his appearance with Obama, praising the president's focus on improving math and science education and attracting investment from industry.
Kitzhaber says Intel's commitment to Oregon should lead to additional progress."This highlights the fact that we have assets here that attract capital investments," he said.
Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.