Intel to invest $7 billion in US plants

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Intel will spend $7 billion over the next two years to revamp three U.S. manufacturing plants, and the company’s CEO called on other U.S. companies to also invest in the future as a way to combat an economic recession.

Intel will update manufacturing plants in Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon to build new 32-nanometer processor chips, Paul Otellini, the company’s president and CEO announced Tuesday.

Intel sees the tough economic times as an opportunity for investment in the future, Otellini told the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. “Tough as these times are, we are not blinking,” he said. “Today, I am pleased to announce our intention to stamp the words, ‘made in America,’ on even more Intel products in the months and years to come.”

He called on other U.S. companies to join Intel, even as dozens of companies are laying off workers. “A secure future requires investment in areas that will give rise to new industries and new ideas,” he said. “We can’t look to government to do this.”

The three U.S. plants will support about 7,000 Intel employees and “multiple thousands” of contractors, Otellini said.

Otellini acknowledged a role for government as well, saying he supports parts of the more than $800 billion economic stimulus package pushed by U.S. President Barack Obama. The U.S. Senate passed on the package Tuesday, and the House of Representatives passed it Jan. 29.

Obama called Otellini late Monday to congratulate Intel for its new investments, Otellini said. Otellini told the president he supported parts of the stimulus package, including money for health IT, more funding for the National Science Foundation and money to repair schools.

Those elements of the package will help the U.S. compete on a global scale in the future, Otellini said.

However, without private investment, the package alone isn’t enough to keep the U.S. competitive in the future, he added. “This year, we are going to see an unprecedented level of public investment in schools, bridges, roads and health care,” he said. “It’s important. It will make a difference. It’s long overdue.

“But let me be clear,” he added. “All that investment is not sufficient. While it may help lift us out of our current crisis, it will not secure our future. By itself, it won’t help stimulate the next generation of ideas.”

Intel’s improved manufacturing plants in the U.S. will build a line of processors, code-named Westmere, for desktop and mobile systems, Intel said. The Westmere processors will combine micro-architecture with graphics ability integrated into the processor.

Asked if Intel would have to borrow money to pay for the improvements, Otellini said the company’s plan is to use part of its $15 billion in cash reserves to fund the projects.

Intel sees the current economic crisis as a time to “not only build back, but to build better,” he added. “In the current crisis, I believe that America’s goal should not be just to survive, but rather to become better than ever.”

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