Richmond - Governor Bob McDonnell announced this week that Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, will invest $96.2 million to expand and upgrade its Lipton Tea manufacturing plant in the City of Suffolk. This investment enables facility upgrades and the purchase of new production machinery for the largest tea processing facility in the United States. Virginia successfully competed against Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina for the project.
"An investment of this caliber secures the future viability of Unilever's Lipton plant in Suffolk, which has been in operation since 1955 and produces nearly all of the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America," McDonnell said. "As the largest tea production facility in the U.S., this operation is crucial to the prosperity of the company and employs nearly 300 in Hampton Roads. This expansion and machinery upgrade ensures the continued success of the Lipton plant for years to come, and is a major win for Virginia and Suffolk."
The Suffolk plant's proximity to the Port of Virginia influenced the location decision for this investment, as the company imports loose tea through the port from various countries, said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. McDonnell approved a $1 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.
The Suffolk plant was one of Unilever's first factories to achieve zero-to-landfill in the USA and was a pilot site to implement LED lighting, which significantly reduces electricity consumption. It has an active team that continues to drive the company's initiatives under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.