Intel Corp. has selected Bechtel as general contractor for the first phase of its $20-billion project to build semiconductor manufacturing plants in central Ohio.

Phase 1 of the project in New Albany would include design and construction of 2.5 million sq ft, including 600,000 sq ft of cleanrooms for the plants known as “fabs,” according to Bechtel. Intel says it expects to begin production at the plant in 2025.

“A project of this complexity and magnitude—with an outsized impact on the community and economy—is the type of work Bechtel is uniquely positioned to deliver,” said Catherine Hunt Ryan, president of Bechtel’s manufacturing and technology business, in a statement. 

Bechtel, which ranks No. 2 on ENR’s 2022 Top 400 Contractors list, launched its manufacturing and technology business unit earlier this year. Company leaders said at the time that they were moving to meet construction demand in the semiconductor sector, as well as for electric vehicle production and data centers.

Jackie Sturm, Intel corporate vice president of global supply chain operations, pointed to Bechtel’s experience in complex projects, its ability to leverage craft support and analytics platforms and a "focus on safety, quality and innovation" in its selection.

Intel says the project would support 7,000 construction jobs. Bechtel says it would partner with North America’s Building Trades Unions, and work with local education organizations on training programs.

Early excavation work of the 1,000-acre site began this past summer by a team of Gilbane Building Co., McDaniel’s Construction Corp., Northstar Contracting Inc. and GTSA Construction Consulting.

The project comes as several U.S. and overseas-based semiconductor chip manufacturers are moving to increase their U.S. production following pandemic-driven supply chain failures. In August, President Biden signed the Chips and Science Act, which puts $39 billion toward construction of chip plants, among other incentives for manufacturers. 

Intel also announced this week that it signed a purchase agreement for land in Madgeburg, Germany, where it will build another fab.

Keyvan Esfarjani, executive vice president and chief global operations officer, said in a statement that semiconductor demand has declined since the company announced its plans to build plants in Ohio and Germany. But the company still wants to “rebalance” its global supply, as the Semiconductor Industry Association has projected demand will rise again every year through 2030.

“We believe Europe and the U.S. are regions that can support and would benefit from stronger semiconductor ecosystems,’ Esfarjani said.