An ode to what once was, what's to come as Ohio welcomes Intel

Jess Deyo
Columbus CEO
Land, which used to house Associate Editor Jess Deyo’s childhood home, being cleared for Intel’s arrival.

As a child, I usually told out-of-towners that I was from Columbus.

Not because I was, but because if I said I was from Johnstown, I’d have to go through the process of explaining how many minutes it was from Columbus or its direction in relation to the city—stuff I just wasn’t sure of at the time. Usually, the response would be, “I pass through it for work,” or even, “I’m not sure where that’s at.”

As I’ve grown, I’ve realized I’m fine with the unfamiliarity (though, there’s less of it these days). Johnstown is even more beautiful when it’s quiet—just enough to hear birds sing and leaves fall from the trees. Quiet enough to hear a car coming far down the road or know the mail was three or four stops away.

I never lived “in” Johnstown, I lived just outside of it in Jersey Township. It’s east of Columbus, 25 minutes away, give or take. But now, it’s much easier to say that my childhood home once stood on land annexed by New Albany in preparation for Intel. It’s proven to turn some heads.

In January, I was already helping my parents pack their house when we learned along with everybody else that it would be Intel coming, fueled by a $20 billion investment. Intel is projected to create 3,000 jobs in Ohio and has already, on multiple occasions, proved its dedication to preparing the future, local workforce for those jobs by collaborating with our colleges and universities.

It certainly doesn’t sting to hear that.

In our July issue, we’re sharing what we know about what’s to come for what has been coined the Silicon Heartland, including jobs you could have at Intel in the years to come and a Licking County housing forecast by Columbus Dispatch business reporter Jim Weiker.

In our coverage, I also believe it’s critical to appreciate what once was, including the projected 75 homes within the Intel site. It’s far from empty. Compensation aside—and there was compensation—there’s no denying that there is an extreme level of difficulty in packing boxes full of items that beg a trip down memory lane or, instead, realizing that some invaluable things can’t be packed.

For my parents, that includes things like the pencil marks on the wall to track my brother’s height or the chalk-covered wooden studs in the basement—the ones where I once wrote something along the lines of being the coolest (and only) daughter. For me, it’s the backyard where I would sit with my mom on Sunday mornings, waiting for my grandpa, who was a recreational pilot, to fly over. He’s my hero.

Not surprisingly, I’ve also benefited from a few lessons, as I’m sure many have: It’s alright to feel both excited and a bit somber, and goodbyes can be hard, no matter what. It’s not weak or selfish to admit change and uncertainty is sometimes scary.

But one thing is concrete: Intel has chosen a place with a ton of heart. Nearby are diners that bring back childhood nostalgia, a coffee shop where everyone knows your order (Hot Spot Coffee—try it) and more family businesses than I can name. It’s the kind of area where everyone waves at each other and help is never far.

It’s a good place to be. Trust me—I would know.

Intel, welcome to Ohio.

Jess Deyo is associate editor.