One morning, late in September, Mike asked me to join him in his office in the Capitol as he was meeting with some high officials from Intel Corporation about the possibility of them building a new semiconductor chip plant in Ohio.
Intel had first contacted Ohio in May but we knew they were also looking at 40 other sites across the country. While this had started as a long shot, by September, it was clear we were in the race. The meeting in the Cabinet Room included Mike, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, officials from JobsOhio and Mike’s administration, as well as the Intel officials.
Mike has told me that many times these negotiations boil down to one word — trust.
They were getting to know us. I remember they were interested in the availability of water. They also made clear their desire to hire veterans, which was very important to them. Mike told them we were a very veteran-friendly state, and how proud we were of our veterans. After all the business conversation, Mike gave them a little history of the room. They said they loved history, so I suggested we take them into Mike’s office and show them the Lincoln desk — the desk Abraham Lincoln was sitting at across from Ohio Governor William Dennison, when Lincoln got official confirmation from the Electoral College that he had been elected president. Our guests seemed to like the story.
On Oct. 19, we had some of the Intel officials over to the Governor’s Residence for breakfast. I wanted to make sure our breakfast had a real Ohio feel to it. We had just harvested a lot of green tomatoes from the residence garden before the upcoming frost, so we decided to make a version of Eggs Benedict, except instead of English muffin for the base, we used fried green tomatoes — with the poached egg and Hollandaise on top. We served it with good Ohio bacon and sausage. We also had French toast stuffed with Ohio apples — served with Flying Mouse Farms maple syrup, made by our son John. Jon Husted gave the blessing before the meal, asking for special blessings for Ohio as this decision was made. It was a memorable breakfast. We stepped outside afterward to take a photo, and it was a beautiful picture-perfect fall day! As they headed to Licking County to look at the site, Mike commented to me that it just couldn’t have been a prettier day for them to be in Ohio!
On Christmas morning as grandkids ran around having fun, Laurel Dawson, Mike’s counselor and long-time chief-of-staff, brought over a letter from Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger: Intel had chosen Ohio! The announcement date was set for Jan. 21.
The announcement was made in the beautiful historic Midland Theatre in downtown Newark. Newark is in Licking County where the land is located on which the new factories, called fabs, will be built. The fabs will produce semiconductor chips, which are used to power electronic products like cell phones, cars, appliances, and more.
After the announcement, we invited the team from Intel over for dinner at the Governor’s Residence. Seven from their team, plus Jon and Tina Husted and Laurel attended. We came up with the menu — crisp butter lettuce salad topped with local cheese curds and apples, choice of lamb chops or salmon, sweet potatoes that were baked and whipped, and a medley of roasted root vegetables including rutabaga, turnips, celery root and some home-grown potatoes. For dessert I wanted to do something that was fun and was very Ohio! I thought I might do a dessert buffet. The night before the announcement, I decided that what I really needed to do was to make a pie. I made my pie dough so that it could chill overnight. I had beautiful frozen cherries and I thought they would make a pie that was pretty and brightly colored. I made a sunrise motif on the top of the pie to signify the rising sun in the state seal — for this was truly going to be a new day in Ohio!
During that night I was thinking of our guests who were coming, and what they might like. I knew that Pat, the CEO at Intel, was from a large farming family from western Pennsylvania — not far from Ohio. It occurred to me that anyone who grew up on a farm in our area probably had a patch of rhubarb. I decided to do a rhubarb-apple crisp using the rhubarb from the Governor’s Residence garden, some apples that my friend Barbara gave me, and drizzle a little maple syrup from Flying Mouse Farms on to the crumble to make it stick together and be crunchy. We decided we needed some Ohio ice cream, too — some vanilla, of course, and everyone loves Graeter’s black raspberry chip and Columbus favorite Jeni’s ice cream. We picked sherbet and sorbet in case someone couldn’t have dairy. We completed our dessert buffet with a delicious orange pound cake served with fresh berries, and some little Ohio-shaped pumpkin muffins, wrapped for our guests to take home for a snack on their plane trip back.
We are so excited to have Intel locate in our great state. We know what this means for the future of our state, the future of our kids. We’re no longer the Rust Belt. We are the Heartland. We have always been innovators and makers here. And this is our time.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.