The nuclear lamina is typically associated with transcriptional silencing, and peripheral relocation of genes highly correlates with repression. However, the DNA sequences and proteins regulating gene-lamina interactions are largely unknown. Exploiting the developmentally timed hunchback gene movement to the lamina in Drosophila neuroblasts, we identified a 250 bp intronic element (IE) both necessary and sufficient for relocation. The IE can target a reporter transgene to the lamina and silence it. Endogenously, however, hunchback is already repressed prior to relocation. Instead, IE-mediated relocation confers a heritably silenced gene state refractory to activation in descendent neurons, which terminates neuroblast competence to specify early-born identity. Surprisingly, we found that the Polycomb group chromatin factors bind the IE and are required for lamina relocation, revealing a nuclear architectural role distinct from their well-known function in transcriptional repression. Together, our results uncover in vivo mechanisms underlying neuroblast competence and lamina association in heritable gene silencing.