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Electric aviation startup Beta Technologies signs lease to expand to St. Albans

A white electric plane flying above low clouds with mountains in the background.
Brian Jenkins
/
Beta Technologies
Beta Technologies' electric aircraft takes a test flight with Mount Mansfield in the distance. The company plans to expand to St. Albans, where it will open a battery research and testing facility.

Beta Technologies will expand its Vermont footprint with a new battery testing facility in a former Energizer plant in St. Albans, the company announced Wednesday. The fast-growing startup, which already operates in South Burlington, Williston, Plattsburgh and Montreal, is aiming to begin selling an electric-powered aircraft in the next few years.

Beta intends to research, develop and test batteries for its aircraft at the St. Albans facility. It signed a lease for the space this month, and plans to begin work on the space in October. The company did not publicize terms of the lease.

“We are excited to establish our new battery facility in Franklin County and create more opportunities for the strong, skilled workforce here,” Beta CEO Kyle Clark said in a company press release. The company said it could add hundreds of jobs in St. Albans in the coming years. If it does, it's in line to receive up to $557,000 from the state’s Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) program. The company received initial approval for that award in March.

More from Vermont Public: Beta Technologies receives state incentive for possible expansion in St. Albans

Beta has grown rapidly since its founding in 2017, and now boasts over 400 employees, many of whom are based in Chittenden County. In addition to its headquarters next to the Burlington International Airport, the company recently broke ground on a 355,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on the south end of the airport grounds. Beta is leasing land for that plant from the city of Burlington, but will not pay rent for up to 38 years, thanks to an agreement under which Beta will make millions of dollars of infrastructure improvements at the site.

More from Vermont Public: Beta signs 75-year lease at Burlington airport. But the electric aircraft startup could avoid paying rent for up to 38 years

But expanding in Vermont’s most populous county comes with challenges, namely tight markets for both labor and housing. Franklin County Sen. Randy Brock said expanding to St. Albans offers the company opportunities that Chittenden County cannot.

"By having Beta expand outside of Chittenden County, I think it creates a greater likelihood of being able to get a workforce in an area that is not at full employment,” Brock said.

Brock also praised the company for bringing new use to the former Energizer space, which he called a “landmark.” Energizer left St. Albans in late 2013. Three other companies currently use the building, and will continue to operate there, according to the St. Albans Messenger.

Beta’s vertical takeoff aircraft is still a prototype, and the company will need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration in order to bring it to market, which it hopes to receive in the next two years.

The company has so far raised about $800 million from investors, and already has orders for its aircraft from companies including UPS, Blade and United Therapeutics.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Henry Epp:

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Henry is a reporter covering business, the economy and infrastructure at Vermont Public. He's also co-host of The Frequency, Vermont Public's daily news podcast, along with Anna Van Dine. Henry came to Vermont Public in 2017, and worked as the station's host of All Things Considered until November 2021. Prior to that, he was a reporter and host of Morning Edition at New England Public Media in western Massachusetts. A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Henry was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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