Governor Announces New Matoaca Megasite in Chesterfield

August 31, 2017 / Current News

Chesterfield Business News

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined the Economic Development Authority of Chesterfield to announce the acquisition of 1,675 acres of prime real estate in the county to be used to attract a large industrial manufacturing company that could bring 5,000-10,000 direct and supplier jobs and billions of dollars in investments to Chesterfield County.

“I am pleased to take part in announcing the creation of a significant new economic asset that will drive job creation and economic activity for Chesterfield and the Richmond region,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “This site gives Virginia something unique and allows us to compete for projects on a level we haven’t had before.”

Mega sites are project locations capable of attracting large automotive, aerospace and other advanced manufacturing plants. These projects often bring 2,500-5,000 well-paying direct jobs and up to 10,000 total jobs, including quality jobs from suppliers.

“The Board of Supervisors is excited by the opportunity to attract another high-quality manufacturing company to Chesterfield County,” said Board Chair Dorothy Jaeckle. “While the Board and Planning Commission will conduct a thorough review of the rezoning application with input from residents, I am confident we can make this happen in a way that protects the character of the communities near the site. Certainly, this will have less impact than the 5,000 residential units allowed under the current zoning,” Jaeckle said.

The Matoaca Mega Site was previously the location for Branner Station, a proposed mixed-use development including 5,000 housing units. That project was discontinued during the last recession.

“A large advanced manufacturing facility of this scale brings so many benefits to the communities where they locate,” said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Designee Kirk Cox, who represents the district in which the site is located. “This can bring thousands of high-paying jobs, but we will need to work closely with our educational partners in the area to ensure the workforce training programs are in place. Fortunately, we have outstanding education partners in the area at all levels.” said Cox.

“This mega-site announcement is another piece of the international supply chain infrastructure that we are building in Virginia to support large scale manufacturing and job creation,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO of the Virginia Port Authority. “The strategic location in Chesterfield County, near the Richmond Marine Terminal and I-95 takes advantage of the value and global reach of the port, will encourage growth, and enhances The Port of Virginia’s position as the East Coast’s global gateway.”

The President of the Greater Richmond Partnership, Barry Matherly said, “The Matoaca Mega Site will be a game changer for the Greater Richmond Region. It will enable the region to compete in an arena which we have not in the past. The jobs and additional investment opportunities that a major project attracted to this site can bring will benefit to all.”

Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller, President of John Tyler Community College described the importance of preparing the workforce for advanced manufacturing jobs. He said, “Building a strong, responsive workforce to meet business and industry needs in sectors such as advanced manufacturing is a top priority for John Tyler Community College. At our Chester Campus, located in close proximity to the Matoaca Mega Site, we prepare our students for these in-demand jobs through programs that provide hands-on learning in high-tech labs and lead to industry certifications and licensures. We look forward to partnering with the companies interested in this new site and to providing them with a well-prepared workforce.”

The project is currently zoned for residential use and will need to be rezoned to industrial use. The EDA has already submitted the rezoning application. Industrial use is consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan for the site.

Located in the southeast part of Chesterfield County, the proposed Matoaca Mega Site includes 1,675 acres currently zoned for residential use. The site was rezoned residential in 2007 as part of the Branner Station Project. When the economy suffered the large downturn, the residential project was no longer viable and has sat vacant since that time. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan now shows the parcel is intended to be used as Regional Mixed Use/Corporate Office/Research & Development/Industrial. The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority currently holds an option on the parcels and is applying to conditionally rezone the entire property to I-3 as part of a strategy to attract a major employer to the region.

The major employers currently targeted by the Economic Development Authority require a site within a convenient drive of a well-educated and prepared workforce, higher education facilities, and an international airport, and that is served by highway and a major north American railroad. They also require a minimum of 1,500 acres to assure that their facility is properly buffered from existing or proposed residential communities. The subject site meets these and other site criteria typically used to evaluate the potential for landing a major employer of the quality targeted by the Economic Development Authority. The plan proposed by Chesterfield County and the Economic Development Authority has been vetted by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and creates a very unique opportunity for the future.

The property, as currently zoned, would allow for thousands of single family homes to be constructed before significant upgrades to the County utility and road infrastructure were required. Preliminary calculations suggest the proposed use will generate less traffic than if the site were developed within the current zoning designation. The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority intends to construct necessary sewer, water, and road infrastructure, consistent with County Thoroughfare Plan and Overall Utility Master Plan, commensurate with the schedule of the major employer. Not only will this infrastructure allow for the creation of thousands of jobs, the existing citizens of Chesterfield County will benefit from the upgraded infrastructure.

Virginia has not been seriously considered for any of the large-scale automotive, aerospace, or other advanced manufacturing companies projects in recent years because we lack a site with close proximity to a large labor force. The Matoaca Mega Site will be Virginia’s best opportunity to utilize the unique characteristics of this site to attract a major employer to central Virginia.

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