Highpoints for a New Year

Mercedes-Benz gave the economy its first boost of 2013 when it announced, in mid-December, that it’s looking for 1, 000 workers to support production of the new C-Class vehicles. The Vance plant already has 3, 300 workers.

Mercedes also celebrated a banner year for auto sales, with a 13 percent gain in 2012, while Hyundai’s Elantra and Sonata models both topped 200, 000 sales.

Overall, U.S. sales of Alabama-produced vehicles were up 6 percent. And the new Acura, also slated for Alabama production, made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in mid-January.

Also at the close of 2012, NBC News says Southern states, especially Alabama, are leading a return of manufacturing jobs to U.S. soil lured by incentives, transportation, low cost-of-living and non-union workforces.

Personal income growth hit high notes, too, as federal statistics showed a 0.7 percent quarter over quarter growth in Alabama — 12th highest in the country.

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Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank predicts that Alabama will have the second biggest economic growth among states during the next six months, besting all but Nevada.

The Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau calculates that the BBVA Compass Bowl generated $21 million for the local economy, with 59, 000 fans at Legion Field and 2.7 million TV viewers besides.

And the University of Alabama victory in the BCS national championship football game fueled a post-game buying spree that left merchants smiling.

Nedra Bloom

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