Category Archives: Manufacturing

How Many Pieces Did You Say It Will Take To Build This Plant?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There is more good news for the Commonwealth.  As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Governor Youngkin announced on Wednesday that the Lego Group will invest at least $1 billion to build a new manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County.  It would be Lego’s only manufacturing facility in the United States.

The company projected that the 1.7 million square foot plant would create more than 1,700 new jobs over a period of ten years.

The company currently has a manufacturing plant in Mexico, but, because the United States is a key market, the company wants to shorten its supply chain issues and reduce its overall carbon footprint.  Along these lines, the plant will be designed to be “carbon neutral”.  To accomplish this, it will use some offsets.  According to the news report, “The factory will also be paired with a solar park, which will be built by 2025 and generate the energy needed for the plant to run.”  From the news report, it is not clear whether the electricity produced by the solar farm will be used directly by the factory or whether that is one of the offsets. Continue reading

Commonwealth Set for Major Broadband Expansion

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

One of the issues underlined by the pandemic was the need for all areas of the state to have access to broadband internet. Without access to broadband, kids (and adults) in rural areas cannot take advantage of courses offered online. To the extent that more people will be working remotely, rural areas need access to broadband in order for those people to move there. Broadband accessibility is necessary for almost all businesses and industries and rural areas will need to have such accessibility if they hope to convince private companies to bring new jobs to their areas.

Thanks to federal funding, the Commonwealth is well on its way to achieving universal availability. The source of most of that funding is the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enacted in early 2021 as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to offset the economic effects of the COVID pandemic. In July of last year, the Northam administration and the General Assembly announced an agreement to allocate $700 million of the state’s ARP funding to broadband expansion. Several months later, that amount grew by  $220 million as a result of an allocation from another section of the ARP. Finally, it is expected that Virginia will get $65 million for broadband expansion from the federal infrastructure bill passed last fall. Continue reading

The Defense Production Act as a Political Tool to Boost Solar Farms

Courtesy Dominion Energy

by James C. Sherlock

We have had multiple discussions, good ones, on the issues surrounding solar farms in Virginia.

Jim Bacon wrote an excellent column about it in February of 2021 titled “The Political Economy of Solar Farms.” It was good then and prescient as of yesterday.

He wrote another one two days earlier.  From that piece:

With the enactment of the (Virginia Clean Economy Act) VCEA, Freitas wrote in the press release, Virginia is experiencing extensive land leasing and acquisition by solar developers. More than 180 solar projects accounting for 140 million solar panels are in various stages of approval or construction. Full implementation of the ACT would consume 490 square miles of Virginia’s forests and farmland, an area twenty times the size of Manhattan.

Thanks to President Biden’s new political/industrial policy, those solar farms just got cheaper. And Chinese solar stocks just got more expensive.

Both of which were made to happen because the President removed the tariffs on Chinese solar panels. Readers rationally can be for that action or against it. But the left has settled on the Defense Production Act as a favored service animal.

So, the President, in addition to removing the tariffs, invoked that act as a national emergency response to mandate additional domestic production of solar panels.

Let’s try to pin down the nature of the emergency and the unintended consequences. Continue reading

Why Not Virginia for Semiconductor Manufacturing Expansion?

Virginia Engineering Programs

by James C. Sherlock

Among the things that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made clear is the vulnerability of Taiwan and with it, the access of the U.S. economy to the 90% of advanced computer chips manufactured there.

The national security requirement for domestic chip manufacturing brings opportunity. It is the nation’s most urgent manufacturing priority. So, why not build the needed plants in Virginia? Is the Commonwealth organized to attract those investments?

For the answer to the last question I looked at the Virginia Department of Commerce and Industry, the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) and Virginia’s engineering schools and found nothing to suggest Virginia is making an organized effort.

Much of Virginia’s headline effort in engineering education is to expand opportunities for Amazon workers in Northern Virginia.

I suggest Virginia focus its Department of Commerce and Trade on chip manufacturing, create dedicated educational consortiums, identify available facilities and workforces like those of the shuttered Rolls Royce plant in Prince George County and offer tax abatement packages to actively recruit semiconductor manufacture. Continue reading