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Burlington electric plane startup seeks permit for major expansion

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Beta Technologies, the Burlington-based electric aircraft company, is hoping to land more space at the Burlington International Airport.

If its permit for a new facility goes through, Beta Technologies would create more eco-friendly planes and jobs here in Vermont. Something company co-founders Kyle and Kate Clark have wanted to do since they were in grade school together. “Kyle and I grew up here, being told in high school that there wouldn’t be jobs here in Vermont,” said Kate Clark.

So the couple wanted to change that. The current facility employs just over 200 people and is looking to hire 200 more over the next year. By the time the proposed new plant can reach its capacity, officials say they hope to have 800 employees. An economic development engine that Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation president Frank Cioffi says he hasn’t seen for a long time. “Beta represents probably the most significant, innovative Vermont economic development opportunity that I’ve seen in decades,” he said.

Cathy Davis, president of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, says businesses like Beta are the backbone of the Vermont economy. “Not only is Beta creating jobs, they’re creating great paying jobs, using our skilled workforce, but also bringing new people to the area to fill positions,” she said.

The company hopes its cutting-edge electric planes will have a global impact as well. Co-founder Kyle Clark says his planes have the potential to help big companies like Amazon, FedEx & UPS not only cut their carbon emissions, but their bottom lines as well. “We’ve seen a very, very high demand for the aircraft and we don’t think that’s going to wane at all because it is just so inevitable that this technology offers financial benefits,” he said.

The cost of the aircraft is $4 million -- more expensive than the upfront cost of similar aircraft, but when taking into account in-flight fuel and maintenance costs.

If the permit gets approved, the project is expected to break ground early this fall.

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