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