Editor’s note: This article was written by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, who approved and paid for this contribution.
For 90 years, the LEGO Group’s signature plastic bricks have been helping children and families fulfill the mission implied in their name, an abbreviation of the Danish expression leg god, meaning “play well”. The company is one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers and a well-loved global icon whose reach also includes theme parks, video games, films, clothing and more.
To meet the growth needs of North America, the LEGO Group conducted a competitive multi-state scout to build a new green manufacturing facility in the United States. The company eventually selected Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield County in Virginia’s Greater Richmond region for a $1 billion, 1.7 million square foot manufacturing facility that will create 1,760 new jobs.
The LEGO Group’s Virginia facility will be their seventh manufacturing facility and the only one in the United States. The new facility will expand the company’s global manufacturing network, shorten its supply chain and support long-term growth in the Western Hemisphere, which was previously served primarily from its Monterrey, Mexico facility. Production at the Chesterfield facility is expected to begin in the second half of 2025.
“Our factories are close to our largest markets, which shortens the distances our products have to travel,” said Carsten Rasmussen, Chief Operations Officer at The LEGO Group. “This allows us to respond quickly to changing customer needs and better manage our carbon footprint. Our new US facility and expanded capacity at our existing location in Mexico mean we are best positioned to support long-term growth in the Americas. We are fortunate to find a location where we can start construction quickly and create temporary capacity in less than two years.”
We are fortunate to find a location where we can start construction quickly and create temporary capacity in less than two years.
Carsten Rasmussen, LEGO Group Chief Operations Officer
The winning trifecta: infrastructure, workforce, sustainability
The Virginia solution for the LEGO Group focused on an attractive, turnkey 340-acre site near a thriving metro area, comprehensive workforce solutions, a competitive state and local incentive package, and a commitment to renewable energy. Company CEO Niels B. Christiansen also cited “easy connections to nationwide transportation networks,” with the Chesterfield location providing convenient access to nearby Interstates 85 and 95, as well as Port of Virginia’s Richmond Marine Terminal and its larger shoreline facilities in the area Hampton Roads Region. Chesterfield County will also provide a temporary building for packaging and training while the new facility is under construction. Speed to market is paramount, and Virginia ticked all the boxes.
The Chesterfield facility will be carbon neutral, with 100 percent of its daily energy needs being met by renewable energy generated by an on-site solar farm. The facility will also minimize energy consumption and use of non-renewable resources.
“We were impressed with everything Virginia has to offer, from access to a skilled workforce to support for quality manufacturers to excellent transportation links,” said Christiansen. “We appreciate the support in our quest to build a zero carbon facility and build a solar farm and look forward to building a great team with support from the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program.”
I’ve never seen [anything] like the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program… It’s phenomenal.
Carsten Rasmussen, LEGO Group Chief Operations Officer
The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program began working with the LEGO Group as soon as its decision was made. A staffing initiative created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in conjunction with the Virginia Community College System and other college partners, this program accelerates the establishment of new institutions through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services entirely dedicated to the unique products of a company are tailored. Processes, equipment, standards and culture. In 2022, Area Development ranked Virginia as the second largest state for human development programs.
“I’ve never seen [anything] like the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, and I’ve been to a lot of places around the world to look at facilities,” Rasmussen said. “I have never seen the commitment, willingness and desire to support Virginia, prospective employees and the LEGO Group in ensuring we have the right cast. It’s phenomenal.”
For the LEGO Group, the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program services included a customized recruitment website that went online with the project announcement and attracted more than 3,000 job applicants within 36 hours. Brightpoint Community College and the Community College Workforce Alliance will support the project and the company’s long-term needs with customized recruitment and training services. The LEGO Group is also eligible for a Custom Permissions Commission Performance Grant for Large Employment and Capital Projects of $36 million and site development improvements estimated at up to $19 million, subject to approval by the Virginia General Assembly.
We were impressed with everything Virginia has to offer, from access to a skilled workforce to quality manufacturing support to excellent transportation links.
Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group
The Virginia Advantage
Virginia represents economic opportunity and is at the forefront of new and innovative strategies for economic and human development in the 21st century. These strategies are paying off. In addition to the LEGO Group, the Commonwealth has landed two new Fortune 500 headquarters in the last year, Boeing and Raytheon; Securing headquarters expansion for Hilton, CoStar Group and DroneUp; and attracted Plenty Unlimited Inc., which will build the world’s largest indoor vertical farming campus in Virginia.
With further planned investments in the Virginia Business Ready Sites program to expand the Commonwealth Sites portfolio and in VEDP’s new Real Estate Solutions Division, which aims to streamline and support current and future site development, Virginia is positioned for a healthy and dynamic economic future.