CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Work is officially underway on the LEGO Group’s first-ever United States manufacturing facility, slated to open in Chesterfield County in 2025.

The toy company held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday at the 340-acre site of the future factory, located within Chester’s Meadowville Technology Park. LEGO executives said that the $1 billion, 1.7 million-square-foot facility will be carbon-neutral, with a solar park to power operations. The factory is also expected to bring in more than 1,700 jobs.

“Now, the real work of putting up the factory begins,” LEGO Regional President for the Americas Skip Kodak said. “This factory is timed to come online just as we need that additional capacity here for our business growth that we’re fortunate to be experiencing in the U.S. market.”

8News toured the now-standing welcome center on Thursday, housed inside a giant yellow LEGO block. The building includes a massive LEGO-constructed model of the future manufacturing facility, as well as information about the company’s history.

Kodak said that the welcome center, which opens to the public during daytime hours on Friday, will remain standing as the acreage around it transforms.

“At this point in time, we haven’t designed in all of the different ways we’re going to be able to bring the public in to the manufacturing facility itself,” he said. “We try to maintain a secure facility, first, for the safety and wellness of our employees, and then, secondly, because we do have some things that we do inside of our factory that we like to retain for our own IP purposes. However, our ambition — and we do this in several other sites around the world — is to be open, especially for school field trips and that sort of approach.”

Also in attendance for Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking were Rep. Rob Wittman, Rep. Jennifer McClellan, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago, Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors Chair Kevin Carroll, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, along with several LEGO Group executives.

In addition to participating in the groundbreaking ceremony, Gov. Youngkin signed two identical bills — HB 2238 and SB 1134 — establishing the Precision Plastic Manufacturing Grand Fund to provide up to $56 million in grants between July 1, 2027, and July 1, 2035 to make the Chesterfield County LEGO project possible. Youngkin said that Chesterfield County and the federal government were making financial investments in the project, as well.

“This is a huge step in confirming that Virginia is the best place to build a business that manufactures right here in the Commonwealth; that creates hope and future for so many employees, but also a partnership with an iconic brand and an iconic company,” he said. “What the bill does represent is the obligation what the state is going to put forth, with regards to hiring and the capital investment.”

The governor added that hiring will begin over the course of the next several months to bring 500 employees on board for material shipping and construction purposes, which will later be expanded to the full 1,761 employees for the facility.

“We’re not just building a factory, but we are building a culture of diverse, inclusive and playful workplace,” The LEGO Group Chief Operating Officer Carsten Rasmussen said. “In all aspects of what we’re going to do in the design of the factory, we’re going to construct that […] to make sure it’s run as efficient as possible. Also, when it comes to use of energy, water, the waste treatment, et cetera, that is our promise.”

LEGO executives said that they were also taking note from children in Central Virginia who used LEGO blocks to build models of how the facility in Chester could be constructed to incorporate and protect the existing plants and animals in the area.

By 2024, packing in a temporary building is set to begin, according to a release. In the second half of 2025, production is scheduled to begin, and the solar plant is expected to be complete.