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Electric Air Taxi Company Sets Sights on Georgia Base

It’s a stake laid down on the idea that a small town in Newton County can help build its future by manufacturing electric aircraft to whisk commuters above the traffic of busy cities.

Santa Clara, California,-based electric aircraft developer Archer Aviation announced last year plans to build a manufacturing facility in Covington with hundreds of jobs.

None of this is certain yet. As work on the concrete pads begins, it’s yet to be seen how the new electric air taxi industry that Archer envisions may develop, and how that could transform the town of Covington with a population of about 15,000.

Still, state and local officials have offered millions of dollars in tax incentives to Archer for the project — including a $3 million grant for machinery and equipment, contingent on job creation. Plans are underway to train people to work in the factory building a new generation of aircraft.


The decision to choose Covington over 28 other sites in consideration around the country was led by Archer vice president of manufacturing Glen Burks, who spent some time in Marietta and Atlanta while in the Marine Corps.

But it was a particular mix of political, geographic and economic factors that made the Covington site attractive enough to seal the deal. He recalled meeting with Newton County Industrial Development Authority officials two years ago during the site selection process.

“The very first time we sat down on August 2021 in Covington and met them for the first time, they were so excited about Archer,” Burks said during remarks at an Atlanta Aero Club luncheon in September.

Other developments — including a planned Rivian electric vehicle plant to be built farther down I-20 — encountered fierce resistance from local residents and some local officials.

Burks said the cooperation he saw from officials in Covington “makes it to where you can solve anything.”

Georgia and local officials are hungry for projects like Archer, which they code-named Project Jane early on. The state and Gov. Brian Kemp “have identified e-mobility as a critical industry to Georgia’s future,” according to Georgia Department of Economic Development global commerce division director Bob Kosek. “Georgia is creating the jobs of tomorrow, building on our existing industries, including aerospace.”

Kosek called Archer “a natural fit for the community’s tech ecosystem, which includes Meta, Rivian, and Takeda.”

Covington ended up as one of three finalists for the Archer Aviation site, along with Tucson, Arizona, and the Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.

Burks said the elements that made Covington attractive included the location on an airport, affordability and the town’s growth aspirations.

With plans to hire hundreds of hourly workers for the factory, Burks prioritized a low cost of living — a lesson he learned after seeing hourly workers struggle with a high housing costs in Maryland at a previous job.

Having a community with housing “at a price point they could afford — whether that’s apartment living, townhomes, single family homes… that’s certainly important to me,” Burks said.

And he said that over a series of visits to Covington over the last couple of years, he has seen the town grow.


Archer’s most important goal is working toward certification of its Midnight aircraft in the new electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) category, a process that is expected to stretch into 2025.

Archer aims to get a production certificate to open the Covington facility in the middle of next year and begin building aircraft on an assembly line.

Getting new aircraft certified takes years even under good circumstances, and the task of getting Federal Aviation Administration approval for eVTOLs that could change how people fly is even more daunting.

Still, Archer is already putting the pieces in place to prepare for the Covington site, including hiring some employees to start working at its San Jose facility. The first six to eight aircraft are being produced at San Jose for testing and those employees will move to Covington when the new plant opens. They’re being trained with a three-week curriculum developed in partnership with Georgia Piedmont Technical College.


In the first few years, Archer plans to ramp up to a few hundred workers at the Covington facility, according to Tosha Perkins, Archer’s chief people officer. That is expected to grow to about 650 workers come 2027, and as many as 1,500 workers by 2030.

To do that, the company plans to help develop a certificate program at Georgia Piedmont Technical College to train an eVTOL manufacturing workforce, and use the state’s workforce development program Georgia Quick Start.

Perkins said she doesn’t plan to list the job openings until sometime in the first half of next year when the company is confident that it will get the production certificate around June.

She knows attracting people to Covington to work in an entirely new industry won’t necessarily be easy.

“Covington itself is a very small town,” Perkins said. So it will be important that the community continues to add enough housing for hundreds more workers and that the area is alluring enough to draw people willing to move there and raise a family. “It’s just not yet built up in a way where we could do that today,” she said.

Source: Govtech