Ikea opens first U.S. manufacturing facility

Swedish furniture maker Ikea celebrated the opening of its first factory in the United States on Wednesday.

Swedwood, a subsidiary of home furnishings giant, has 40 plants worldwide. The $281 million plant in Danville, Virginia will employ 300 people by the end of 2009, said Swedwood North America president Bengt Danielsson.

Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine was at Wednesday’s ceremony to hail the economic boost to the ailing region along the North Carolina border, formerly a stronghold for the tobacco industry.

Swedwood received $12 million in incentives from in state and local authorities, as well as the Virginia Tobacco Commission funds.

“They’re a lot more forward-thinking than some other communities in this corridor,” Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth said.

The Swedwood operation alone won’t shore up the economy of a region with one of Virginia’s highest unemployment rates.

But local officials say the plant opening is an indication that things are going in the right direction.

Ikea currently operates 34 retail furniture outlets in the United States.