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Ohio Small-Business Owners Look to a Future with New Neighbor Intel

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Huge changes are coming to Licking County, Ohio. At September’s groundbreaking for Intel’s $20 billion factory complex, local, state and federal officials, elected leaders, businesspeople — as well as the president of the United States — descended on a former farm field to extol the impacts of this gargantuan project on the global chip industry.

They all spoke in soaring terms about how Intel will affect Ohio, but I wanted to talk to some regular folks. I drove half an hour east to the town of Newark, Ohio. There, I parked downtown and walked into three small businesses at random. Here’s what I heard.


Donetta Kirk (in the pink top) has been styling hair in her Small and Smart salon in Newark for 50 years. I ask her what she thinks about the new Intel plants that’ll be going in. Pause. “How much of it is just going to be robotics?” she asks, slightly warily. I tell her Intel estimates there’ll be about 3,000 jobs when the factories open.

Her sister Robin Ritchie (in the purple dress) pipes up. She has a grandson graduating from high school nearby, he’s thinking of becoming an electrician, and will be looking for work. “I’ll tell him not to worry then,” she says laughing.

“I think Intel will be good for business, I really do,” says Mary Nelson. She’s the woman in the chair. Mary has been getting her regular trim from Donetta for 40 years. “We needed something in Licking County, we really did, to get us going,” Mary says.

Donetta adds her prediction that the local homebuilding industry will take off. More homes mean more people, which she figures means more hair to cut. Donetta and Robin and Mary all hope that Intel employees will venture 20 miles east of the Intel fabs to discover the charms of historic Newark, founded in 1802.


“I’m excited to see what Intel will bring,” Amanda Stickdorn tells me when I stop in at her business, Linnet’s Flowers on the Square, a 26-year-old family-owned shop. Even before the news broke about Intel coming to Licking County, Amanda was seeing a few more young people coming in with a bit of extra money in their pockets.

The city has fixed up some of the streets downtown, and that’s helped, she says. But with Intel arriving? “That’s super,” she says. Now, she’s looking to hire a full-time floral designer and is sprucing up her website to make it easier to buy from her shop online. “We’re living in a digital world, so we want to be part of that.” I remind her that Intel folks tend to be fairly tech-savvy. Oh, yeah, she says. “We’d like to cater to that crowd, for sure.”


Juston Wood laughs when he says owning a bike shop is “an adventure every day.” For 10 years, he’s run DownTown Cycles in Newark. The bike he was working on when I walked in? A fancy $10,000 carbon fiber model from Specialized, in for some warranty repairs. Juston says that while Intel folks “probably wouldn’t pedal down here” — the Intel site is about 20 miles west — they “might bring their bikes in to get repaired.” He is a tad concerned about “unwanted inflation” with local land and housing prices already nosing upward, but he’s optimistic that Intel “will bring jobs and money to the area.” Juston says an entry-level bike costs $650 to $700 — so he sees a “trickle effect” of new people moving into Licking County translating into some additional sales for him at the lower end of the market — and maybe a few high-end carbon fiber bike sales, too. “Hopefully, it’s better for all,” he says.

1 Comment

This is a really nice spotlight on the community.