Lego breaks ground on $1B Chesterfield facility
Plant will be Danish toymaker's first U.S. manufacturing site
The Lego Group broke ground Thursday on its $1 billion Chesterfield County manufacturing facility — launching the Danish toymaker’s first U.S. manufacturing plant and one of Virginia’s biggest economic development projects.
The Billund, Denmark-based toy company known for its brightly colored plastic toy bricks and construction sets plans to hire 1,761 people to work at its plant in Chesterfield’s Meadowville Technology Park over the next 10 years, with production, including molding plastic toys, expected to begin in the second half of 2025.
“We are not just building a factory, but we are building a culture of diverse, inclusive and playful workplaces for more than 1,700, or to be exact, 1,761,” said Lego Chief Operating Officer Carsten Rasmussen.
Lego is initially hiring 500 people to package toys in a temporary facility in Chesterfield’s Walthall Interchange Industrial Park and plans to begin those operations in the first half of 2024. So far, the company has hired about 20 people, Rasmussen said. Lego’s Virginia careers website shows several open positions, including construction project manager, director of human resources, facility director, materials planner and senior procurement manager.
“This is an iconic company,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “…Together [we] are committed to invest [in] and grow … [a] workforce that is truly best in class.”
Lego plans to select a general contractor for the facility in the next few months, Rasmussen said, and the company has contracted with George Nice & Sons Inc. to conduct groundwork currently occurring at the site.
When complete, the Lego facility will have 13 buildings comprising 1.7 million square feet, including office spaces, molding, processing and packing buildings and a high bay warehouse. The property spans 340 acres.
Lego is eligible for incentives approved by the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment Commission. During the ceremony, Youngkin signed Virginia HB 2238 and SB 1134, establishing the Precision Plastic Manufacturing Grant Fund. The bill provides up to $56 million in grants between July 1, 2027, and July 1, 2035, “to a qualified company that engages in the manufacture and distribution of precision plastic products in an eligible county and that between June 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2035, is expected to make a capital investment of at least $1 billion and create at least 1,761 new full-time jobs related to or supportive of its business.”
Thursday’s event was celebratory, but Virginia’s economic development officials have acknowledged that Lego’s plant is a one-of-a-kind deal in the commonwealth, while neighboring states have won many more high-dollar industrial projects since 2015. Youngkin has blamed a lack of shovel-ready industrial sites and focused on allocating more state funds toward site preparation in hopes of winning more megaprojects.
Lego is also using the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a discretionary incentive program that provides free customizable workforce recruiting and training services for eligible businesses locating or expanding in Virginia.
Lego has touted its commitment to the Richmond community. On Thursday, the company announced it will donate more than $1 million to charities that support local children from disadvantaged backgrounds with learning-through-play programs. In 2022, Lego donated $300,000 to the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia, but the company and its foundation won’t announce recipients of the remaining $700,000 until this summer.
“Children are our role models because they have boundless creativity and natural curiosity about the world and they’re a constant source of inspiration,” said Skip Kodak, Lego’s regional president of the Americas.
Lego has also emphasized its commitment to sustainability. By 2032, Lego Group aims to reduce its global carbon emissions by 37% of its 2019 output. The Chesterfield facility will be carbon-neutral, with ground and rooftop solar panels and a 35- to 40-megawatt solar plant onsite. The toymaker is also aiming for a Gold LEED certification for the facility once complete.
The Chesterfield factory is Lego’s first U.S. manufacturing facility and its second in North America, the first being in Monterrey, Mexico. The Danish company plans to open another facility in Vietnam by 2024 and is expanding its facilities in Mexico, Hungary and China.
Lego established its American subsidiary, Lego Systems Inc., in 1973. Although its Americas headquarters have been in Enfield, Connecticut, since 1975, the company is moving its U.S. headquarters to Boston in 2026. The toymaker employs more than 3,000 people in the U.S. and has more than 100 stores, including three in Virginia — in Arlington, McLean and Woodbridge. Worldwide, the company has more than 27,000 employees.