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Space Industry Company Eyes Pittsfield Location

Josh Landes
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer speaks at Thursday's press conference

A company that specializes in electromagnetic research related to the space industry is looking to make Pittsfield, Massachusetts the location for a new test facility.

Mayor Linda Tyer made the announcement in front of the Berkshire Innovation Center. The almost $14 million research and development center set to open in January 2020 is located in the William Stanley Business Park – formerly the campus of General Electric.

“I’m not going to be annoyed by that beeping sound because it means there's construction happening,” said Tyer above the sound of a truck backing up.

Tyer said Colorado based Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc., intends to install a space environment test facility in the city – and she’d like to see it housed at the BIC as its first tenant.

“EMA is a globally recognized company and it has the potential to establish Pittsfield and the Berkshire Innovation Center – as I mentioned a moment ago – as a hub of the space industry,” said the mayor.

EMA has worked on designing and testing spacecraft to withstand space as well as developing software. The company has done work for NASA and private entities like SpaceX.

“It’s been a really exciting project to do this, mostly because if anybody’s followed the news in any way shape or form in the last several years, everything’s trying to go to space right now," said Justin McKennon. Formerly a General Dynamics employee, he's on the EMA team.

“We’ve been around the world and done all sorts of really cool stuff, but even this is new for us," McKennon went on. "This is a new branch of the company. So, as the space industry itself has grown, the interest in people going to space has also grown, and as a result of that, there needs to be rigorous testing and an understanding of the effects of the space environment on things.”

He said the kind of work the company wants to do with the testing facility in Pittsfield is already in high demand.

“The United States Air Force is one of the largest participants in the space effects industry, and they have largely incomplete test capabilities – at their own admittal, too. And they’re very bullish and have offered us extensive support throughout this entire project, and it really kind of just gives validity to what we’re trying to do,” said McKennon.

“EMA plans to include an initial capital investment of $600,000 and the creation of six new jobs with the average salary of $60,000 a year," said Tyer. "We are also actively working with EMA and the Berkshire Innovation Center to locate them right here at the Berkshire Innovation Center on the William Stanley Business Park.”

Tyer explained how the city is incentivizing EMA to choose the BIC.

“We will be asking the city council to use $140,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development fund to assist EMA with the development of their testing chamber and related equipment, and for the creation of these six new jobs," she said. "Also included will be a request of the city council to approve a tax increment financing agreement.”

McKennon stressed that the initial six jobs EMA will look to fill in Pittsfield are just the beginning.

“We’re not here just to create a few jobs, we’re going to build an empire, and that’s really what we’re here to do,” he said.

He says the company intends to be up and running in Pittsfield by the end of 2020.

The Pittsfield City Council will consider the city’s EMA incentive package plan at its next meeting on September 24th.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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