After dinner with some of technology's brightest minds Thursday night, President Barack Obama toured an Intel microprocessor factory on Friday and spoke to local students at Intel's Hillsboro, Ore., site. His theme was innovation in America and the critical role of education in maintaining U.S. competitiveness.
"It is a great honor to host President Obama. Our country and this company have been built on innovation, and manufacturing has been at the heart of America's economy for over a century," said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. "We share the president's belief that with a culture of innovation we can and will retain a vibrant economy based on industries of the future."
Intel's Mega Investment
During his visit, Obama toured Intel's Fab D1D at Ronler Acres campus, a wafer-fabrication facility. The U.S. semiconductor industry is the country's leading exporter when averaged over the past five years.
In comments before Obama spoke, Otellini disclosed Intel's plans to add 4,000 U.S. jobs in 2011, primarily in product development and R&D. He also announced an investment of more than $5 billion to build a new facility at its Chandler, Ariz., site to produce future microprocessors. Intel said the Fab 42 factory will result in thousands of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs in Arizona.
"This new factory will play a central role in extending Intel's unquestioned leadership in semiconductor manufacturing," Otellini said. "The transistors and chips it will produce will be the most dynamic platform for innovation that our company has ever created. Together they will enable more capable computers, the most advanced consumer electronics and mobile devices, the brains inside the next generation of robotics, and thousands of other applications that have yet to be invented."
Previously, Intel announced plans to spend $6 billion to $8 billion over several years to upgrade existing U.S. factories and build a new development facility in Oregon. These plans, announced in October, will support approximately 6,000-8,000 additional U.S. construction jobs during the building phase and eventually add up to 1,000 high-skilled, high-wage manufacturing jobs.
Obama Appoints Otellini
"Even as we have to live within our means, we can't sacrifice investments in our future," Obama told Intel's workers. "If we want to win the future, America has to out-build, out-educate, out-innovate and out-hustle the rest of the world." Obama also named Otellini to the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, an advisory board that works to find ways to promote hiring and economic growth.
"Otellini, of course, had been very outspoken about his disfavor with Obama," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "So that separate meeting where Otellini was named to the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was to address that. It's more along the lines of 'If you think you can do better, you are on the council and you get to help fix this.'"