Vermont aerospace companies showcased at Montreal forum

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 4:47 PM EDT
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MONTREAL (WCAX) - Seven Vermont aerospace manufacturing and technology companies are on the world stage this week as the Green Mountain State plays an outsize role at a major industry conference in Montreal.

the International Aerospace Innovation Forum brought dozens of aerospace technology companies from across the globe to Montreal to showcase their cutting-edge work in aviation, transportation, and defense. The exchange of ideas and advances in software, infrastructure, and technology is aimed at rethinking 21st-century travel.

“For more contracts and more business but also to work on workforce and teaming and strategic alliances,” said Christopher Carrigan with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The forum helps companies try to tap into Quebec’s $18 billion aerospace market. Seven Vermont companies got to bump elbows with the likes of Boeing, Bombardier, and Bell.

Derby-based North Country Engineering employs 34 people and manufactures machine parts for major companies like Space X. The chamber helps them pay entrance fees. A spot can cost thousands. “We’d never be able to even get to the front door if it weren’t for these people behind the scenes arranging this stuff,” said the engineering firm’s Tom Bronson.

Vermont and Quebec are longtime trading partners and their proximity plays a key role in accessing the Canadian market and addressing workforce challenges. “Being so close to Quebec over the border we can arguably share a workforce. Folks that live across the border can come to Vermont and work, so that’s helpful to us,” said Vt. Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrlee.

Business leaders say the trade show will help grow Vermont’s own $2 billion aerospace manufacturing and civil engineering industry.

“The industry, in general, is coming out of the pandemic and it gives us an opportunity to reconnect and rebuild our supply chains,” Carrigan said.

This year’s show focuses on sustainable aviation through green energy. South Burlington-based Beta Technologies is a key player in that arena. with its full-electric vertical takeoff and landing plane. Blain Newton, Beta’s chief operating officer, gave the keynote speech to industry leaders, highlighting the benefits of the “golden triangle.” “I think with this triangle of Burlington, Vermont, and the Plattsburgh ecosystem and Montreal, you can do something special here,” he said.

For state leaders, it’s also an opportunity to meet with provincial officials and companies looking to expand. “There are a number of businesses here -- I’ve spoken to at least a dozen over the last 24 hours. They have an interest in the U.S. but they also have an interest in Vermont,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott.

And Vermont, with its budding high-tech sector -- is very interested in them.