An Open Letter to Future Intel-Ohio Employees

Dear future Intel-Ohio employees,

In late 1979, American Electric Power Co. announced it would move its headquarters to Columbus from New York City, where it had been for more than 50 years. Many employees had to decide: stay with the company and move to what was then a rather nondescript city in the Midwest or find new employment in a more exciting place like the Big Apple.

Our firm assisted in the move, as we did for other major corporations such as Borden, Chase Bank and Anheuser-Busch. Our founder, Paul Werth, was all too aware of what it might take to convince AEP employees that Columbus – a city that even long-time residents sometimes referred to as “Cow Town” – was a great place to live and work. While AEP’s offer to help New York employees with driving lessons and car loans was one thing, selling the city was quite another. 

In the end, the new transplants were made to feel welcome, included and shown a city in which they could enjoy a lower cost of living, high quality of life and meaningful opportunities for community involvement. And guess what? Once here, most of those new residents stayed and made Columbus their long-term homes.

Columbus remains underappreciated by those who don’t know us. We don’t have mountains, or beaches or Broadway. But we remain a beacon for those seeking careers within a vibrant mix of industry sectors, a variety of educational opportunities, and a chance to make a difference within an open and welcoming environment. Perhaps that’s why Columbus continues to grow while many other cities struggle to keep their residents, jumping in size over Indianapolis and San Francisco during the past decade to become America’s 14th largest city. 

Now, Intel is poised to set up shop just a stone’s throw away from here. Along with its $20 billion semiconductor project will come at least 3,000 new Intel employees, some from here, but many from elsewhere. As current or aspiring Intel employees, you may now be doing your research. As you do so, please know these things about our city:

First, we aren’t threatened by new blood; most of us also are transplants, after all, including many of our government leaders. 

Columbus, at its heart, is a rich melting pot. Our residents today not only come from other major Ohio cities and major metropolitan centers like New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., but also from places such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal and Bhutan. In fact, all of Columbus’s growth over the last 10 years can be attributed to our increasingly diverse population, including Black and brown Ohioans who were born here. 

Our community also is progressive in the best sense, welcoming those whose place of birth, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation might make them wary of moving to the Midwest.

While we have our political spats, we cooperate with each other on the big stuff because that’s how we learned to outcompete other cities while improving our own.

Finally, we are fiercely proud of our arts and cultural offerings; our historic neighborhoods; our amateur and professional sports teams; and our position as a major financial, research, technology, fashion and education hub. 

However, you should also know about our faults. Opportunity still does not come equally to all our residents. Poverty and infant mortality rates are stubborn problems. Our affordable housing stock is not keeping up with demand, and Black and brown children continue to fall behind white children in school.

When you get here, you will see these things for yourselves. Maybe your experiences and knowledge will help us solve some of our most vexing challenges while continuing to push our community forward as a place where everyone can succeed.

In closing, please forgive the length of this letter. It should be clear to you by now how excited we are to see you when you get here. Until then, we’ve left the light on for you, and the key is under the mat.