BETA Technologies of Burlington has signed a lease to expand into the former Energizer battery plant on Route 7 in St. Albans. After a renovation, the new location will research, develop and test battery packs there for its all-electric aircraft.
Vermont Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle calls BETA’s expansion “a really big win” for not only St. Albans or Franklin County, but for the entire Green Mountain State.
“We certainly wanted them to stay within the state of Vermont,” she said. “And the St. Albans facility where Energizer batteries had been was, in our opinion, going to be a seamless fit because the infrastructure was there already.”
BETA’s Founder and CEO Kyle Clark said the St. Albans site is close to the company’s aircraft final assembly and manufacturing facility, which is currently under construction at the Burlington International Airport.
“At BETA, responsible development and sustainability goes well beyond aircraft flight operations, and the opportunity to revitalize the St. Albans Energizer Plant for next-generation energy solutions is an important part of this approach,” he said.
Kurrle said BETA will likely start out occupying just a portion of the 200,000-square-foot plant before gradually expanding into most of it. Because of that, she expected the new jobs to be added gradually as well.
“From what I can tell, they have about 155,000 square feet that they could occupy,” she said. “But I get the impression that they’re going to start with a much smaller piece of that.”
Lynn Calderwood is the gallery manager at the Village Frame Shoppe in downtown St. Albans. She says friends of hers used to work at the Energizer plant, which closed in 2013, putting almost 200 people out of work.
“It sounds like it would be a great thing to get more jobs in the area, especially technology jobs, and to be back in the Energizer area there,” Calderwood said. “Especially if they hire people from the area and not just bring other people in to do the jobs.”
“Well, if I remember correctly, there was a loss of jobs and there were some people that moved out, had to find other jobs, because Energizer was a really big employer when they were here,” Calderwood said.