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LEGO announces plans to build first US factory in Virginia

Legos are coming to Virginia. The classic children’s toy company has announced plans to build its second North American manufacturing factory in Chesterfield County, outside Richmond.

Standing in front of a map of the Commonwealth made entirely from the little bright building blocks, Governor Glenn Youngkin said the billion dollar factory is the start of a great partnership.

“I actually heard them say that 1,761 jobs won’t be the end. That will just be a milestone along the way,” Youngkin said. “And that makes me very very excited.”

The factory will make and pack LEGO blocks and it will be the company’s 7th factory globally, and its first in the United States.

The state is providing up to $75 million dollars in state money to seal the deal with LEGO. According to the LEGO Group, one criteria of the deal that they demanded was that “the Commonwealth’s public education budget” be fully funded before any tax dollars are allocated to the company.

Niels Christiansen, CEO of the Danish company, said they choose Virginia because it’s well situated geographically for distribution.

He added that the area’s population should meet their hiring needs, and the site in Chesterfield works well for the company’s carbon-neutral goals.

“We can actually on site have enough solar panels that we can fully power the entire plant,” Christiansen said Wednesday at a press event announcing the plans.

A packet of press information emailed after the event by LEGO Group included a Frequently Asked Questions document. The questions addressed issues of sustainability, the location decision process, and the company’s hiring plans.

But the questions also veered into politics, including “Governor Youngkin has made prohibiting ‘critical race theory’ in K-12 classrooms a key pillar of his policies. Does the LEGO Group support this?” as well as “Why are you establishing a factory in a state where the governor supports non-renewable energy, such as coal, and is critical of renewable energy investment?”

In the press information, the LEGO Group distanced themselves from both policies, writing that they have “financially donated to organizations that support black children and educate all children about racial equality” and that they have an “ambitious sustainability agenda.”

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.