Vermont’s Aerospace Industry Takes Off 

Vermont’s Aerospace Industry Takes Off 

Until recent years, Vermont’s $2 billion aerospace industry has been mainly comprised of parts manufacturing, rather than whole airframe construction and design, explains Kyle Clark, founder and chief test pilot at Burlington’s Beta Technologies.  

Beta’s Alia changed all that. 

Alia-250, imposing, futuristic and sleek, is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft capable of transporting cargo and passengers on long-range flights. Beta Technologies staff talk about the craft as if it’s a person, and when it’s brought into the hangar for maintenance or testing, the atmosphere takes on the crackle and buzz of a meeting with a celebrity.  

Right now, there are about one and a half Alias in existence. In April 2021, Beta Technologies inked a deal with United Parcel Service to sell 150 to the logistics and delivery firm. 

UPS will use its Alia fleet for deliveries in small and mid-size markets to cut down on fossil fuel usage. Beta Technologies plans to expand as a result of the deal, eyeing a new 400,000-square-foot facility and a staff totaling 1,000, up from its current 250-person-deep bench. As Clark pointed out, that means more than a salary for just Beta’s staff; the 30,000 people employed at Vermont aerospace manufacturing firms will benefit, too. 

Beta Technologies also has contracts with Blade for passenger aircraft, United Therapeutics, and has approval from the United States Air Force to fly on behalf of the military. 

According to Chris Carrigan, vice president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Vermont’s aerospace industry supports 9,500 direct jobs in Vermont and accounts for 2.2% of its gross domestic product. “Vermont has a thriving aerospace and aviation industry with a tradition going back before the Civil War of precision machining,” says Carrigan. 

In addition to Beta, Carrigan highlighted aviation firms with Vermont bases like GE Aviation in Rutland, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Raytheon Technologies and Bennington’s KAMAN as contributors to the state’s industry. 

Vermont-made parts go into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the 25mm Gatling gun used in the F-35 joint-strike air fighter for the Vermont Air National Guard. 

Raytheon Technologies recently signed a deal with Vermont’s GlobalFoundries to produce 5G communications chips. 

“We have an amazing workforce in Vermont” for aviation companies, offers Clark. “Vermont is primed to become a hotbed for tech and aerospace jobs because of its workforce, training pipeline and existing parts manufacturing capabilities.” 

Vermont’s education system offers a pipeline for students to get involved early in their careers, too. Carrigan cited programs like those at Vermont Technical College, Vermont Flight Academy, Green Mountain Flight Academy and Burlington Technical Training Center. 

“It’s really unique that Burlington is adjacent to probably the best aircraft testing facility this side of the Mississippi,” Clark said, referring to BTV’s large runway. 

“Vermont has two really unique assets. No. 1, it’s just south of Montreal, where there’s a massive aerospace intellectual capital pocket, and it also has the (Vermont) Air National Guard here, the Green Mountain Boys,” Clark said. 

“We have a whole contingent of former Air National Guard pilots that have stuck around and are working here. … Vermont isn’t really off the beaten path when it comes to highly qualified aerospace talent.” 

Carrigan also notes the state’s position in the Quebec-New England Aerospace Trade Corridor as a benefit to aerospace firms. Vermont is between the Montreal aerospace cluster and one in Hartford, Conn., and groups like the Vermont Chamber of Commerce are working to more strongly link the three regions for sharing contracts, connections and best practices. 

Clark says Beta makes a point of finding people who have lived in Vermont, but then left to work or study elsewhere, and recruiting them to return. Beta employees have pedigrees that include time at Tesla, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.  

“We actively (seek) them out as high-quality engineers that had earned very respectable positions at those companies and gave them an opportunity to come back to Vermont and do something in the field of electric transportation that was intellectually interesting and had an association with aviation that was appealing to them. They brought their whole families back here to Vermont,” Clark said. “Vermont’s a wonderful place for people who like the outdoors, like associating with thoughtful and engaging intellectual people and people who like a healthy lifestyle. Those folks turn out to be really good contributors to a team like this. It’s strategically beneficial to our business to have that quality of people here.” 

“Vermont’s aerospace and aviation has a bright future. We have a lot of exciting projects in the works, manufacturing, with the right programs I think we can recruit the right students and recruit the right people for tomorrow,” Carrigan said. 

“I think given the pandemic there’s been a paradigm shift, and I think people are recognizing the quality of life and the opportunity to move to and live, work and play in Vermont. There are remote opportunities as well, but I think we have definitely seen an influx of new people into Vermont, and that’s a good thing.” 

Learn more about Beta and find your next career.  

I am a Vermont Artist: Bill Forchion

I am a Vermont Artist: Bill Forchion

Bill Forchion is a multidisciplinary artist and visionary speaker. He is a graduate of Barnum & Bailey Clown College as well as the American Institute of Holistic Theology. This talented writer, performer, filmmaker, and U.S. State Department-appointed cultural exchange ambassador for the arts grew up in Hammonton, New Jersey and moved to Brattleboro in 2001.

Bill believes “Artists create work based on the song their soul is singing. My work is as much of part of where I am (Vermont) as who I am.”

Bill shared other thoughts about being a Vermont artist.

How has living as an artist in Vermont affected your creative process?

Being an artist in Vermont has affected me in a number of ways. It has provided me with the space to grow into myself artistically. By this, I mean the space has given me the opportunity to fall over and over again, allowing myself to take greater risks in developing my unique expression. The beauty of Vermont’s four seasons (mud season not included) has been an inspiring element in my creative process. Creating in Vermont alongside so many other creative people has opened many doors of artistic collaboration. Each collaboration promotes a new direction of growth. So basically, just about everything about Vermont has affected my creative process.

What is something about your art that has changed over time?

Being a parent and watching my kids grow, and helping them mature has been an amazing growth resource for me. My artistic expression has gained a fearlessness. Where once I worried about who might be offended or what critique I might receive, I now find that I work from the heart. I create out of kindness and love; that sometimes deals with frustration and anger, which allows me to delve into deep emotional places without fear of harming others or compromising myself. Raising children has helped me explore innocence.

What is your vision for the next several years?

My vision for the coming years is to use art for healing, teaching, and community building. Scientists and politicians have worked very hard on issues such as the climate emergency and the opioid epidemic and we are still without a viable solution to the problems. I believe it is time to incorporate artists alongside scientists and politicians into these discussions. My vision is to integrate art into the process of science and politics and religion as means of creating new pathways to mental, physical, spiritual and community health.

Browse Bill’s website.
Find Bill’s books on Amazon.
Visit theDreamerStation on YouTube
See his posts on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist.

The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist. This story by the Vermont Arts Council originally appeared at 

Southwestern Vermont Chamber Continues Stay To Stay Program To Recruit New Families and Workers

Southwestern Vermont Chamber Continues Stay To Stay Program To Recruit New Families and Workers

The Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce wraps up another year of Vermont’s Stay To Stay Program this December with over 200 families registered, 50 plus people participating in Zoom meetings and 8 families moving to Southwestern Vermont.

“From those connections, we’ve had 6-8 families move to the region,” said Matt Harrington, Executive Director of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce. “That’s huge. Those 6-8 families in small communities can influence select boards, school boards, volunteerism and small businesses.”

“What’s more,” Harrington continued, “is that when we recently surveyed this year’s participants, more than 40% of the 200 indicated they are an 8, 9, or 10 on the scale of ‘ready to move here’ which means they’re really close to moving here!”

The Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM) developed the Stay to Stay initiative in 2018 as part of the Scott Administration’s strategy to attract more working families and young professionals to Vermont to address the State’s declining workforce. The Southwestern Vermont Chamber was a pilot location for the original program and has been a partner ever since.

“In 2018, then VDTM Commissioner, Wendy Knight, called me up and said ‘I’ve got a crazy idea,” recalled Harrington, “why don’t we leverage the national marketing reach of the department to invite people from all over the country to visit Vermont for a weekend with the express purpose of convincing them to live here for a lifetime.”

Prior to the program, Vermont was seeing a declining population, an aging workforce, low unemployment, and employers struggling to find employees. Based on the findings of the 2019 Southern Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Plan (CEDS), the shrinking and aging population in Southern Vermont was having a considerable impact on the economy. An issue that was impacting much of rural America, Southern Vermont was not alone in trying to reverse this trend, and needed to leverage its ability to act regionally and step forward with competitive regional solutions.

Harrington adds, “Southwestern Vermont was in particularly rough shape economically at the time and it also had an aging workforce and no new blood replacing those retiring. We thought, well, we don’t really have an option here do we – we have to jump at the opportunity. Four years and a global pandemic later, I think Southwestern Vermont alone has talked to over 300 families, created weekends for over 75 participants and we’ve probably seen at least a few dozen families move to this region because of the program.”

For the Stay To Stay Weekends the participating areas would “roll out the red carpet” for people that came through a form on the Vermont tourism website. The aim was to convert tourists who already enjoyed visiting Vermont into full-time residents.

Weekends began with a Friday evening reception hosted by the Southwestern Vermont Chamber and partnering lodging properties including the Four Chimneys Inn. The Friday reception welcomed Stay To Stay travelers with 25-30 local stakeholders joining them including select board members, downtown program directors, young professionals, chamber board members and more to welcome them to town. Saturday and Sunday offered opportunities to explore the region and get a glimpse into living in the community. On Monday, participants started their morning with a Coffee and Conversations program at the Chamber and later met with employers, realtors, schools and incubators before they headed back home.

The program and the Southwestern Vermont Chamber were a feature on NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt” in 2018.

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the weekend visits in 2020 and 2021, however the Southwestern Vermont partners continued the program with monthly Zoom meetings for participants from around the country to learn more about the area. Private one-on-one calls and meetings also occurred in an effort to guide people and help them make the final decision to move to Vermont. A partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor and regional representatives quickly connected participants with job opportunities and relocation initiatives.

“It is part of our job to help attract young people and families to the region, retain a modern and growing workforce, and support a more diverse population,” says Harrington. “We believe a targeted, highly nimble program like Stay To Stay continues to be necessary as we see new families and workers eyeing Vermont.”

Additionally, the area has seen an increase in diversity because of the program. As Southwestern Vermont communities continue to grow, the Chamber says it’s important to harness the talent of all Vermonters so that businesses can capitalize on the growth of women, people of color, and the LGTBQ community in the labor force.

Harrington continues, “The potential to increase diversity, through recruitment and retention efforts like Stay To Stay, is a great opportunity for Southwestern Vermont and all of Vermont to become more competitive in the global economy with the unique talents and contributions that diverse communities bring.”

Cristina Perez Ayala Cano, 32, from Monterrey, Mexico made her journey to The Shires of Southwestern Vermont this summer because of the program and has since moved to Bennington, Vermont. She made the move with her husband, David Morelos Zaragoza and their german shepherd dog, Bagheera. Through a variety of interactions with the Chamber and other partners, Cristina finally landed a job as the Assistant Director of Admissions at Bennington College. Cristina has embraced the local community by volunteering for this year’s Garlic Town, USA event and attending young professional activities.

“Vermont became our top state because we were looking for a community that could be nurturing and where we could thrive,” says Perez Ayala Cano. “The Stay to Stay program helps to both promote all that Vermont has to offer, as well as assist you on arrival, and weave you into that social fabric that makes Vermont, and in our case Bennington, a place we now call home.”

To learn more about the Stay To Stay program visit:

I am a Vermont Artist: Dona Ann McAdams

I am a Vermont Artist: Dona Ann McAdams

For almost two decades, renowned photographer Dona Ann McAdams has been raising goats on a farm in Sandgate, Vermont. A photographer for whom work and community are one and the same, Dona’s recent photos are often of goats and cows, horses, scenes of milk production, and other denizens and phenomena of rural life.

Before Vermont, Dona’s community and subjects were thoroughly urban. She studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in the ‘70s, and her friendship with Harvey Milk taught her to use her art for social change. After Milk’s assassination, Dona returned to New York City, where she was born and raised, and she began photographing subjects like the gentrification of the Lower East Side, the queer liberation movement, people living with mental illness, and the women of the city.

Dona’s photography has been exhibited in such acclaimed venues as the Whitney and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Since 2019, a retrospective exhibit of her work, Performative Acts, has been touring museums and galleries around Vermont. Curated by Vermont State Rep. John Killacky (D-South Burlington), the former director of the Flynn Center, the exhibit features photos spanning four decades of her career and will be on view next at the Bennington Museum on April 2, 2021.

Dona shared her thoughts on being a Vermont artist.

How has living as an artist in Vermont affected your creative process?

In New York City my darkroom sat in a rented retrofitted bathroom in an old school building, PS122 (Performance Space 122) in the East Village. But when I moved to Vermont in 1998 I had the space and capability to make a darkroom large enough to fit my needs. I was also able to realize a long-held desire to live with animals who fed me—both physically, emotionally, and (even) artistically. Today, along with my husband, novelist Brad Kessler, my photographic art has extended into the other art forms: farming and cheesemaking. Our farm is one of the smallest licensed dairies in the state. As well as my traditional human subjects, my goats have also become the subject of my art.

What is something about your art that has changed over time?

My work has become more intimate and personal. I work more closely with animals and the land. My relationship to my work is a direct result of my working alongside horses, goats, and neighboring farmers.

What is your vision for the next several years?

I’ve always worked directly with the community I’m photographing, producing images for them and for myself. In the next few years I plan on mining my extensive archive, looking back at work I haven’t taken the time to look at before, some dating back as far as 1974. I’ve been working on a visual memoir with support from a Creation Grant I received in 2019 called Still Time.

Visit Dona’s website.

Follow Dona on Instagram.

Read this 2019 interview with Dona in Seven Days.

Watch this video of Dona and John Killacky discussing the culture wars of the ’90s.

Dona Ann McAdams is a photographer whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; The International Center for Photography. Since 1983, she has been committed to bringing cameras and photography into marginalized and under-served communities. She has built community darkrooms and taught photography in places as diverse as New York City homeless shelters, Appalachian farming communities, thoroughbred race tracks, and day programs for people living with severe mental illness. She is the author of a book of performance photography, Caught in the Act (Aperture 1996) and The Woodcutter’s Christmas (Council Oak Book, Fall 2001), and her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe London TimesThe Chicago TribuneTimeNewsweekSternDoubletake, and Aperture.

The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist. This story by the Vermont Arts Council originally appeared at

Meet the Maple Sugarmaker: Baird Farm

Meet the Maple Sugarmaker: Baird Farm

Is there anything more Vermont than making maple syrup?  We all look forward to those warmer winter days and cold nights because we know the maple sap will be running.  The history, the community, the sweet flavor, the fact that sugaring happens only once a year.  All of these thing come together to make sugaring season a very special time in the Green Mountains.

Jenna Baird and Jacob Powsner of Baird Farm in North Chittenden and Trent and Abby Roleau of Gateway Farm in Bristol explain what it’s like to be a maple sugarmaker in Vermont in this exclusive interview with DigIn Vermont.

Where is Baird Farm located?

Our farm is located in the foothills of the Green Mountains in North Chittenden, VT. (Exact address: 65 West Rd. North Chittenden, VT 05763).

What’s the history of your farm?

Our 560-acre farm is located in Chittenden, Vermont and has been in the Baird family for four generations. Bonnie and Robert Baird own and operate the farm today while I, their daughter, Jenna, and my partner, Jacob, own and run the maple syrup retail business. 

Robert’s grandparents, Sara and Ralph Baird, both grew up on farms on the same road. In 1918 they purchased our farm from Sara’s sister and brother-in-law. Their son Richard took over the operation in the 1940s and ran the farm until 1979 when Bonnie and Robert purchased the property.

Maple syrup was produced here even before the Bairds moved to the property. When Sara and Ralph began farming they milked cows and made butter that was sold door-to-door in the nearby town of Rutland. As the dairy herd grew, milk was sold into the Boston market and later to our local Cabot cheese plant. The milking cows were sold in 1996 and, since that time, our maple syrup has grown and expanded – now being the primary crop on the farm.

How did you get started in maple?

Maple has been in my family for at least four generations – 100 years! My great grandmother made syrup on the farm on a very small scale and taught my father. My father started it as a hobby, but when he came back to the farm after college he began to grow his hobby into a business. Four years ago my partner, Jacob, and I started working on the farm for my parents in the production part of the maple business and bought out the retail side shortly after.

What have you learned from when you started until now?

Communicating is extremely important especially in a family business, build things bigger than they have to be for anticipated growth, and always have a backup plan if something breaks. Along with many other things!

How many taps do you have?

Today, we have 11,000 taps.

What do you enjoy about making maple syrup?

There are so many things we enjoy about making maple syrup it is hard to pick just one. We love the smell of the steam in the sugarhouse, seeing all the sap pouring into the tanks after all of the hours we’ve put into tapping the trees, and we love sharing the sugaring experience with all of our friends, neighbors and customers. 

What was the inspiration for your other maple products (maple ketchup and spruce tip infused syrup)?

There are so many value-added maple products on the market, i.e. maple hot sauce, maple mustard, maple bbq sauce, but we had never seen maple ketchup – so of course, we had to pursue it! The spruce tip infused maple syrup was a random idea we came up with while chatting with a friend about different types of beer.

Do you have any new products on the horizon?

Yes, we have a few ideas for upcoming new products. Keep your eyes open for more infused syrups and granulated maple sugar!

What is one of the most rewarding things about being a maple syrup producer in Vermont?

There are so many rewarding parts of being a syrup producer in Vermont. We love being able to maintain the longtime Vermont tradition while keeping our farm in our family, we love working outdoors and we love sharing the sugaring world with visitors from all over.

What are your plans for Maple Open House Weekend?

Each year we participate in Maple Open House Weekend. We will be serve free rosemary waffles and maple syrup tastings throughout the day. We also provide tours of our sugaring operation. Boiling is weather permitting – but we try our hardest to make it happen so that folks get a chance to see us in action.

Do you have a favorite maple recipe that you’d like to share?

We made a fun cocktail the other week with our spruce tip infused maple syrup:

  • 1.5 oz Quality Gin (We prefer Vermont Bar Hill)

  • 1.5 oz The Whole Woods Spruce Tip Infused Maple Syrup

  • 4 oz Champagne of choice

  • 1 Sprig Spruce for garnish

  • A Few Cranberries for garnish

1. Use a cocktail shaker with ice to combine gin and maple syrup

2. Pour into a cocktail glass and top off with champagne or seltzer water

3. Garnish with spruce sprig and cranberries. Enjoy!

Story originally appeared on the DigIn Vermont website: