Lego factory (a real one) to bring nearly 2,000 jobs to Virginia

The Denmark-based entertainment giant Lego Group will spend more than $1 billion to build a new manufacturing plant for its signature plastic toy blocks in Chesterfield County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Wednesday.

The 1.7 million-square-foot toy manufacturing facility at Meadowville Technology Park will create more than 1,760 new jobs for the state, according to a release from the  Republican governor’s office. It’s the latest in a series of business investment and relocation coups for the state.

“The Lego Group’s decision to establish its U.S. manufacturing plant in Virginia shines a global spotlight on the advantages that make the commonwealth the best business location in the nation, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with this iconic company,” said Mr. Youngkin, a Republican.

The Virginia site, scheduled to start construction later this year and be fully operational by the second half of 2025, would be the company’s seventh in the world and second in the Western Hemisphere. Officials at the Billund, Denmark-based company, which experienced a sales boom during the global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, say one reason for building the new site is the supply chain challenges also exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Our factories are located close to our biggest markets, which shortens the distance our products have to travel,” LEGO Chief Operating Officer Carsten Rasmussen said in the statement.

Rep. A. Donald McEachin, the Virginia Democrat whose district includes the factory site, praised the deal for “stimulating economic activity in the Greater Richmond area.”

“I look forward to the Lego Group’s success here in the commonwealth,” Mr. McEachin said.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield County, the Greater Richmond Partnership and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission to finalize the agreement.

“We were impressed with all that Virginia has to offer, from access to a skilled workforce, support for high-quality manufacturers, and great transport links,” said Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the Lego Group, in a statement. “We appreciate support for our ambition to build a carbon-neutral run facility and construct a solar park and are looking forward to building a great team with support from the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program.”

Subject to the General Assembly’s approval, the governor’s office said the Lego Group will be eligible to receive a grant of $56 million for bringing in investment dollars and creating jobs. That approval seems likely given the bipartisan support for the factory on Wednesday.
State Sen. Joseph Morrissey, a Democrat whose district also includes Chesterfield County, said in a statement he was “so pleased” with the deal.

“I would like to personally thank both Governor Youngkin as well as the Lego Group for making this joint decision to invest in Central Virginia,” Mr. Morrissey said.

Lego’s U.S. headquarters is based in Enfield, Conn., site of the now-closed factory for the company. The jobs created with the Chesterfield County site would increase the company’s U.S. employment base by nearly two-thirds.

Lego officials said in a statement that the factory will operate as a carbon-neutral facility, with all of its day-to-day energy needs be matched by renewable energy generated by an onsite solar park. A temporary packaging site is planned for an existing building nearby in early 2024 and will create up to 500 jobs, the company said.

The company’s only other manufacturing facility in the Americas is located in Monterrey, Mexico.

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