Home Tags May 2017

May 2017

Top News Links: Tuesday, May 30


Fallout continues after ride-sharing bill failure

A statewide framework to regulate ridesharing firms such as Uber and Lyft stalled in the Alabama Legislature, and it’s unclear when such companies could begin to launch new service in Alabama communities. Uber, through a spokeswoman, points to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as culprits for the stalled legislation, Al.com reported. – Insurance Journal

Warren Averett leases space in downtown Mobile

Warren Averett,  an accounting firm with office throughout the Southeast, has leased the 3, 200-square-feet of space on the second floor of 3 S. Royal St., in downtown Mobile, according to Pete Riehm of NAI Mobile, who represented the landlord. Gaines Zarzour of Monarch Group worked for the tenant. Serda's Coffee Co. occupies the first floor. – AL.com

Bud’s business plan was solid, not half-baked

For Bud Cason, it’s the first bite that counts. Cason has proven that theory since opening Bud’s Best Cookies 26 years ago. “I took a nutrition class some years ago. The dietitian taught us that when somebody wants something sweet, that first bite takes care of the sensation, and the second bite really takes care of it. After that, you’re just filling your stomach, ” said Cason, the founder, chairman and CEO of Bud’s Best Cookies near Birmingham. That’s how Cason got the idea for his signature bite-size cookies, which today bring in about $33 million in sales annually. – ANC

Ohio University VP taking UAB provost job

Ohio University announced last week that its executive vice president and provost has accepted a post at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and consequently is leaving OU. Pam Benoit, the university’s executive VP and provost since 2009, will be UAB’s new senior vice president and provost starting July 1. – Athens News

Huntsville residential sales up 10 percent in April

Huntsville/Madison County residential sales totaled 583 units during April, a rise in sales of 10 percent or 55 units from the same month the previous year, when there were 528 total sales, according to the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service. – ANC

Birmingham launches office to lure movie productions

Alabama's largest city is opening a new film office in hopes of luring more movie productions to the area. Film Birmingham is now officially open for business after operating behind the scenes for more than a year. An initiative of Create Birmingham, it plans a website targeting the film industry. – AP/News Tribune

Chipotle gives more information on data hack

More details are known about a payment card security breach at Chipotle Mexican Grill a few weeks ago. Chipotle said hackers used malware to access data from payment cards on the company's point of sale systems at certain Alabama restaurants from March 24 to April 18. – AL.com

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Friday, May 26


Trump: German automakers are ‘very bad’

President Donald Trump threatened to stop German car sales in the U.S. during a meeting with European officials in Brussels on Thursday, German publication Der Spiegel first reported. Trump said he would stop German automakers from selling “millions of cars” in the U.S., Spiegel reported, calling Germans “very bad.” – Business Insider

Liberty National building may soon get upgrade

The Liberty National building's owners are in the process of breathing life back into the 80-year-old Birmingham building. A Delaware limited liability company called Liberty Redemption LLC is working with lenders, lawyers and renovation experts to revive the building, a representative for Liberty Redemption confirmed. – AL.com

Ivey fills Moore’s vacant judge spot with Sellers

Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Republican attorney William B. Sellers to the Alabama Supreme Court on Thursday, bringing the court back to its normal size after the ethics case against former chief justice Roy Moore. Sellers will fill the associate justice seat previously held by Lyn Stuart. Stuart was appointed chief justice after Moore resigned following his permanent suspension. Moore is now among the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Alabama. – AP/USN&WR

Montgomery to see first wave of info tech-certified professionals

The first group of classes for a Montgomery-area information technology training program will finish early next month, as 15 professionals will earn certification to work with military contractors. TechMGM is a program of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Community College System and the local IT industry. – AL.com

2017 may be the year of the ‘retail apocalypse’

Stores from HH Gregg and Payless to Sears and JC Penney have all announced they are either closing or shuttering hundreds of stores this year. The question is now – what retailer will be next? Business Insider recently used data from F&D Reports to determine which companies are most vulnerable to economic downturns that could result in massive closures or even bankruptcy. – AL.com

Troy poised to have Sunday liquor sales

 For people in Troy, having a glass of wine or beer on Sundays could soon be an option. Governor Kay Ivey signed local legislation that allowed the city council to set a special election for October 10th, to give residents a chance to vote on Sunday sales. “That date she signed is the date we’re authorized by legislature to have the election, ” says Troy City Clerk Alton Starling. – ANN

Opinion: Medical research brings jobs, hope

Medical research means hope for millions of Americans and their families affected by a life-changing disease like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer or heart disease — diseases that certainly have an impact in Alabama. As we look to the future, it is important for Congress to continue to fund the National Institutes of Health to provide for the critical infrastructure needed by our nation’s medical research enterprise. – Montgomery Advertiser

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Thursday, May 25


Feds propose to not share oil revenue with states

Four U.S. states on the Gulf of Mexico stand to lose billions in future payments if a proposal in the president's new budget survives congressional scrutiny. The White House on Tuesday proposed ending a program that shares revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling with the states — and it does so just as those payments were scheduled to expand significantly. Alabama,  Louisiana,  Mississippi and Texas are trying to close their own budget gaps amid a protracted oil price downturn and as the new White House budget asks them to absorb social welfare cuts. – CNBC

Alabama community colleges to get special Apple curriculum

Apple has created a free app development curriculum for high school and community college students interested in careers in the fast-growing app economy. The curriculum, called “App Development with Swift, ” is a full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach students app design with Swift, the company's popular programming language. The Alabama Community College System is one of six across the country to get the curriculum. – CNET

Northport balks at paying $1.5M Mercedes incentive

Officials with the city of Northport are sparring with representatives of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority over a 2009 “gentleman's agreement” that would have the city give $1.5 million to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International over 10 years. The money in question, subject of a meeting held Tuesday, is part of a contract signed eight years ago by then-Gov. Bob Riley, the county authority and the car company. – AP/Tuscaloosa News

Jo Bonner has new role as Gulf Coast recovery chief

Jo Bonner, a former U.S. House Representative, was appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey Wednesday as the new chairman of the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, according to a state press release. One of his priorities will be ensuring that the compensation given to the state after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 is used to reverse “wildlife damage, workforce development, infrastructure improvements and tourism promotion, among other efforts.” – AL.com

Hubbard’s lawyers say his conviction ‘legally baseless’

Lawyers for former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard argued in an appeal filed Wednesday that his ethics conviction is “legally baseless” and prosecutors stretched the bounds of the state law to bring charges against him. Hubbard's lawyers filed the appeal in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals as he seeks to overturn his 2016 conviction on ethics charges. – AP/USN&WR

Mobile Regional Airport wins $2.2M grant for infrastructure

Mobile Regional Airport will soon benefit from a $2.2 million federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money will go toward runway rehabilitation, runway lighting reconstruction and allow for a new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle. – WPMI

Dothan’s SAMC forced to cut 80 employees

Southeast Alabama Medical Center, Dothan’s largest employer, will cut 80 of the facility’s 2, 800 jobs after a lengthy process of considering various cost-savings measures. Mark Stewart, director of community relations at SAMC, said revenue at the hospital has been trending downward for the past four or five years. In 2016, the hospital operated in the red, recording a loss of $2 million in the operations portion of the budget. – Dothan Eagle

Huntsville mayor urges Alabama to rise up, be a ‘GIG’ state

Mayor Tommy Battle challenged Alabama to become a “GIG” state and provide its residents with affordable access to high speed broadband. “Since Huntsville announced it would become a GIG City nearly two years ago, we’ve seen companies vying to provide superfast internet to our residents and businesses, ” said Battle. “Google Fiber was the first to answer the City’s call and understand our vision, and they’ve set off a flurry of competition that is good for our citizens.” – Dothan First

compiled by dave helms

Recipe for All Pro Hospitality

“There’s only one place in the world that you can see that view, and that’s on Mobile Bay. It’s special. This venue is 424 feet up in the air — the highest restaurant on the entire Gulf Coast.”


Bob Baumhower introduced Alabama to buffalo wings in 1981. “We were first, ” he says with obvious pride, before admitting that many people considered him crazy. Despite the naysayers, his privately held Aloha Hospitality now operates 11 restaurants. Annual sales exceed $31 million. A companywide consolidation (except new fine dining eatery, Dauphins) under the Baumhower’s Victory Grille brand emphasizes a shared sports entertainment atmosphere. While that element adds value, says Baumhower, it’s secondary. Above all else, his brand is about great food and great service. 

So how does a boy raised in Toledo, Ohio, grow up to sell chicken wings in sports-themed restaurants crisscrossing Alabama? 

After vacationing in Florida, his family moved to North Palm Beach, where he started high school. While watching Miami execute the NFL’s only perfect, Super Bowl-winning season sparked Baumhower’s interest in football and converted him into a die-hard Dolphins fan, he certainly didn’t anticipate playing there in five years. 

His father’s advancing career moved the family to Tuscaloosa for his senior year. “I had just started playing ball. I was not a guy that grew up loving football. I just kind of fell into it, ” explains Baumhower, who wasn’t recruited out of high school. “After the signing date, somehow Coach (Paul “Bear”) Bryant saw me on film, saw me play against a guy that they were pretty high on. He gave me a scholarship, which is how I went to Alabama.”

When Baumhower quit football before his second season, Bryant summoned his ex-lineman and his father. “He made me look at myself in ways that I hadn’t done before. He made me believe that if I thought about who I could be and made a plan to get there, I would have an opportunity to do special things. I believed what he said, ” recalls Baumhower. “I begged for my position on the team. And it changed my life.”

Embracing Bryant’s guidance, Baumhower twice was selected a second-team All-American at the University of Alabama. Picked by Miami in the 2nd round of the 1977 NFL Draft, he played eight seasons without missing a game. Then a knee injury in Super Bowl XIX forced him to sit out the ’85 season. 

Baumhower still holds team records for most career sacks by a tackle and most single-season tackles by a defensive lineman. With 750 career tackles, two Super Bowl appearances and five Pro Bowl selections, he’s remembered as perhaps the best Dolphins’ nose tackle ever.  

Richard Todd followed Joe Namath as quarterback for both the Crimson Tide and the New York Jets. As business partners, they invited Baumhower into the hospitality business. “Richard and I had become best buds at Alabama. We shared an agent, Jimmy Walsh, with Joe Namath, ” says Baumhower. “Through those relationships, I was lucky enough to be included when Joe opened his second Bachelors III in Fort Lauderdale in the late ’70s.” 

Dolphins’ linebacker Steve Towle unintentionally accelerated things by introducing Baumhower to Wings & Things in Fort Lauderdale. “It was the strangest thing that I’d ever seen, somebody making a living selling chicken wings, which nobody ate back then much, ” recalls Baumhower, who quickly grasped the concept’s potential.

After relocating from Buffalo, owner Eddie Hauck had become a Dolphins fan. He and Baumhower became friends, recruited Phillip Weaver in Tuscaloosa, and (using Hauck’s recipe) opened Wings & Things on the UA campus. It was 1981. Few people beyond the Northeast had heard of buffalo wings. “Nobody wanted to try them. We had to give them away, ” Baumhower continues. “We quit advertising, and my brother David started taking trays of wings to fraternities, sorority parties and dorms — to get the product out there. It took a couple of years, and then it took off. It was all word of mouth.”

Baumhower opened Wings and Whiskers in Northport after retiring from football in ’88. “I had a catfish farm in Greene County, and we planned to vertically integrate by doing chicken and catfish, ” he says, before laughing and admitting, “the name didn’t stick very long, though, because a lot of folks were calling, asking if we were a pet store.” He was the sole proprietor, assisted then as now by wife, Leslie, his “top advisor and boss.”

With seasonal variants, Aloha Hospitality employs between 800 and 1, 000 people in Alabama. Payroll exceeds $11.5 million. Another Victory Grille and a “Cuban speakeasy” named El Floridita (both under contract in Mobile) should boost those numbers.

ABOVE Dauphins’ night view of the Mobile skyline. Photo by Tad Denson

Baumhower’s coastal restaurants have often included outliers, from Calypso Joe’s Caribbean Grille at the Orange Beach Marina, sold in 2005, to his elegant new eatery atop the RSA Trustmark Building in downtown Mobile. He named it Dauphins, a double entendre paying homage to Mobile’s French heritage and his NFL career. 

Executive Chef and Sommelier Steve Zucker calls the food, “Gulf Coastal Cuisine with touches of New Orleans Creole Cajun and Caribbean.”. 

Baumhower adds that Creole cuisine originated in the Caribbean en route to Mobile and New Orleans. “Restaurants in Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica: there are a lot of Creole influences there. So we bring all of that together at Dauphins.”

Structural issues are delaying El Floridita-related renovations to Trustmark’s basement. When completed, it will pay tribute to its Cuban namesake, says Baumhower, who three times accompanied the Alabama Department of Agriculture to Cuba — presenting dishes that showcased chicken and other Alabama products. “We went to El Floridita in Havana; Mobile is Havana’s sister port, and we want to have some fun with that.” 

After stressing his parents’ role, Baumhower credits Coach Bryant with providing his foundation for success, in life and business. 

“We’re very particular with the specs on our food: how it’s prepared, how it’s presented, flavor, texture, temperature. All of those things, to me, are Xs and Os, like how you run your plays.”


ABOVE The filet mignon is Dauphins’ top selling steak. The gorgonzola, pear and baby spinach salad with Conecuh bacon dressing and fire roasted pecans is another popular menu item. Photos by Tad Denson

Bryant’s “you’ve got to have a plan” mantra suffuses Baumhower’s focus on infrastructure: including an operations manual and training manuals for every position, plus position-specific mission statements that define expectations. “Say it’s a wing cook: His or her mission is to create hot, crispy, well-seasoned and sauced wings in a timely manner. If you don’t deliver on that, you’re not getting the job done — it’s like me playing as a defensive lineman. I could thrash around, run fast and look good, but if I didn’t get to the ball carrier and stop him I wasn’t getting the job done, ” he continues. 

“The number one thing you’ve got to have in the hospitality business is a good vision for what you want your brand to be and who your customer is. But once you get that piece down and the model works, it’s always about your people. You’ve got to want to make people happy in our business.” 

That attitude spawns regular statewide store-to-store trips (in an Alabama-made Tiffin motor home). “I want to go fishing more, ” laughs Baumhower, who keeps a boat in Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean excursions. “But if you’re committed to that, it’s hard to take your hands off the wheel.” 

Eldest son Spencer, in his second year at the company, should help boost dad’s fishing time. 

Adrian Hoff is a freelance contributor to Business Alabama. He lives in Mobile.    

Text and Photo by ADRIAN HOFF

Top News Links: Wednesday, May 24


Google Fiber rolls out in Huntsville

Google Fiber,  Alphabet's fast gigabit internet service, is now available in Huntsville. But instead of laying fiber-optic cables, Google is using fiber from Huntsville Utilities, a city-owned provider of water, electricity and natural gas. It's an example of CFO Ruth Porat's cost-cutting efforts at work. – CNBC

Alabama to get slice of massive Boeing contract update

Boeing has received a potential five-year, $1.1 billion contract modification from the Missile Defense Agency to continue to provide development support for the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program. The modification increases the total value of a previously awarded contract from $4.7 billion to $5.8 billion, the Defense Department said Monday. Boeing will collaborate with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon with some of the work being done is Alabama. – GovConWire

Georgia-Pacific investing another $50M in Escambia County mill

Georgia-Pacific is investing $50 million to upgrade the paperboard machine at the company’s mill in Escambia County, following the completion of a $388 million energy improvement project that involved two years of construction. Slated to begin in late summer, Georgia-Pacific said the new project in Brewton will rebuild part of the machine and improve the quality of the mill’s white-top linerboard product, increasing the facility’s competitiveness. – Made In Alabama

Educational, workforce conference set June 5

The Business Education Alliance will be partnering with the Alabama Community College’s Jeff Lynn to host an educational forum at Wallace Community College. The goal will be discussing the K-12 pipeline to workforce development and focusing on the immediate needs of our educational programs and ways to strengthen them. The forum will be June 5 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at George C. Wallace Community College in Dothan. – News release

AA sues Alabama man to retrieve Big Book manuscript

Alcoholics Anonymous is demanding the return of its 1939 original manuscript describing the “Twelve Step” program of recovery from alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. in New York state court last Thursday sued an Alabama man, Ken Roberts, who owns the manuscript, a New York art gallery and a California auction house. – AP/Gillette News-Record

Samford wraps up 175th anniversary celebration

Samford University in Birmingham wrapped up a yearlong celebration of the school’s 175th anniversary with a series of seven commencement programs during May. The printed programs for the various Samford colleges and schools listed approximately 1, 200 total candidates for degrees. Samford President Andrew Westmoreland and Provost Michael Hardin presided over each of the ceremonies, all but one of which were in Samford’s Wright Center. – Alabama Baptist

Inside Wayne Farms’ new, high-capacity feed mill

Already heavily invested in poultry production in southern Alabama, U.S., Wayne Farms LLC recently increased its commitment to feed production in the region with the completion of a $55 million feed mill near Newton. The 50, 000-square-foot facility, which has production capacity of 25, 000 tons per week, is the largest startup feed mill in the United States. – World-Grain.com

Google deep data move reminds us that privacy is dead

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday. The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information. – Washington Post/AL.com

compiled by dave helms

Retail Sure Shot

In 1975, Steve Smith took on his first business venture. Hunting was his passion, as was archery — two pastimes that kept him busy. But at the age of 13, he also saw an opportunity. He saw a gap in the market of reloading shotgun shells for dove hunters. 

Starting on his own, he was soon able to employ some neighborhood kids — and he began saving up his earnings. 

“Between that and mowing lawns and picking pecans, that’s how I made money to start my business, ” he says. 

By 15, he had opened up a backyard bow shop — with about $600 worth of equipment. Though he had no formal training, local hunters would bring in their gear and he would repair and service it. There were no hunting shops in the panhandle of Florida, he says; they were unheard of. But as he continued reloading ammo, hunters continued coming to him for tune-ups.  

“It was all hands-on, trial and error, ” he says, working from “what information I could gather with a phone conversation with somebody else. That’s about the only way you got it.”

Luckily, he says, he started with a natural ability to tinker.

“I was always mechanically inclined. I could always look at something and figure it out.”

His backyard operation grew steadily for the next nine years, until he moved into a building in Jackson County, Florida. Hunters from Florida and beyond would visit his shop, and his reputation grew within the archery community. 

In the years since, Smith has continued within the industry, working as a traveling sales rep and owning archery locations in North Carolina. He credits his success to his natural salesmanship and willingness to try techniques — like offering financing — that he gleaned from other types of business. He also offered archery-specific deals like setting up entire bows, with all the accessories needed for sighting, balancing and more, and selling them as a package deal. 

“They literally flew off my shelves, ” he says. “We didn’t know it all, but we made a big impact.” 

Today, Smith co-owns Archery Connection in Phenix City, with his wife, Janice. Their son, Mason — a professional archer who holds a sponsorship with equipment maker PSE — manages their store.

Janice got into the business after the two married; the shop got so busy that she had to quit her full-time job to help. Since then, the pair has shot at and won numerous tournaments, all while making their living through archery.

Now, 32 years later, she’s proud that they still represent a mom-and-pop shop. “I recognize the value of you walking through my door, ” she says, adding that’s what sets them apart from big-box operations. 

The Smiths work to keep their customers loyal, with a combination of customer service and perks. For example, bows bought from Archery Connection come with free service (minus parts), a lifetime of free lessons and more. 

They boast the largest selection of bows in the region, offering both compound and recurve styles — think mechanical pulleys for the first style, Robin Hood for the second — as well as crossbows and more. Brands include PSE, Obsession, Hoyt, Elite, Parker, Bear, Gearhead, Bowtech and Genesis. 

Customers can find a wide selection of arrows, feathers and plastic for fletching, strings in every hue imaginable, bow stands, quivers and more.

They also offer hunting supplies, coolers, clothing, cases and a selection of guns. If you can’t find precisely what you’re looking for within their shop, they’ll help you track it down. 

Their operation fills a 30, 000-square-foot building that incorporates two indoor shooting ranges and a virtual shooting simulator, with a 3-D target course outside.

“We’ve got everything, ” Janice says. Even a dog. The family pup, Archer, is a crowd favorite among customers. 

On average, Archery Connection sells 500 bows per year, with hunting season and Christmastime being their busiest seasons. Archery Connection also hosts weekly tournament shoots on Thursdays and Fridays. 

In addition to the Smiths, the store has four full-time employees and four part-timers, including Jerry Presley, a bow technician who also offers shooting lessons. A veteran shooter himself, Presley says he’s been impressed with Archery Connection’s commitment to helping customers grow in their skills.

“Steve has a real nice way of teaching people to shoot. It’s the right way. If you take the time, it’ll make you a much better shot, ” he says. 

Bethaney Wallace and Nathan Leduc are freelance contributors to Business Alabama. Wallace is based in Phenix City and Leduc in Columbus, Georgia.


Top News Links: Tuesday, May 23


Watco opens national training center in Birmingham

 Thousands of rail workers will come through Birmingham in coming years to train at Watco's new state of the art training system. It’s the first training center of its kind for Watco, a Kansas-based transportation company with 4, 800 employees and 175 centers. The company held a ribbon cutting on Monday. The 10, 000-square-foot center in Fairfield is the first of its kind, an executive said. – AL.com

A quick roundup of what passed, failed in Legislature

The session is over: What was accomplished? Alabama lawmakers ended the 2017 legislative session on Friday. Here's a look at some of the proposals that passed and failed this year. – WTVY

SmartBank to buy Capstone Bank for $84.8M

Less than two years after acquiring the former Cornerstone Bank in Chattanooga, the Knoxville-based SmartBank agreed Monday to buy one of the biggest community banks in Tuscaloosa to help expand the East Tennessee bank into Alabama. Smart Financial Corp., the parent company of SmartBank, will pay $84.8 million in cash and stock to buy Capstone Bank in Tuscaloosa. – TimesFreePress

Georgia-Pacific Brewton completes $388M energy project

Local and state officials joined Georgia-Pacific Brewton mill employees and their families on Saturday to celebrate the completion of a $388 million energy improvement project after two years of construction. The project modernized and streamlined the mix of equipment in the mill's recovery boiler system and now provides the mill with the ability to generate its own energy using natural gas and biofuel residuals from the paper-making process. – PRNewsWire

Making state revenue off fantasy sports here remains a fantasy

Proponents of legalized fantasy sports in Alabama suffered a setback for the second straight year after members of the Senate killed H354 last Friday. After squeaking past the House, H354 died in the hands of state senators after they failed to put the legislation to a vote. Observers speculate that the Senate’s decision not to tackle the bill has to do with Luther Strange telling lawmakers that DFS is illegal since the game is considered gambling under current state law. – CalvinAyre

Government eyes whether recall happened fast enough

The U.S. government is investigating whether Hyundai and Kia moved quickly enough to recall more than 1.6 million cars and SUVs because the engines can stall, increasing the risk of a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it's looking into three recalls by the Korean brands. The agency also said it's investigating whether the automakers followed safety reporting requirements. – AP

Senate candidate Brinson on trade mission to Africa

Senate candidate Randy Brinson left Alabama May 19th on a 10 day trade mission to Zambia as part of his Alabama Agribusiness Renaissance initiative.  This is Brinson's 7th international trade mission, and his 4th to Africa, in cooperation with Alabama's Agriculture Commissioner,  John McMillian. – PRNewsWire

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Monday, May 22


Alabama doctor dies during attempt to climb Everest

An Alabama doctor was killed Sunday morning while climbing Mount Everest, reports said. The Washington Post reported Roland Yearwood died not far from the mountain's peak, and authorities are still trying to determine his cause of death. Yearwood was a physician at Georgiana Medical Center in Butler County. – AL.com

Arms package for Saudis likely to benefit state

While details are still coming out, the deal signed by President Donald Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia appears to have connections to Alabama, particularly in the sale of the THAAD missile defense system and logistics support for helicopter systems. THAAD is made by Lockheed Martin at the company's plant in Troy and is one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world. – WAAY

State’s unemployment rate for April down to 5.4 percent

Alabama's unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent. The state Labor Department says the April jobless rate announced Friday is down four-tenths of a percent from March. Alabama followed a national trend with the improvement. But the state's unemployment rate is still well above the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, which is at a 10-year low. – WPMI

Birmingham-Hoover a quiet but busy economic engine

The Birmingham-Hoover metro area is the economic engine that drives the state of Alabama, but people don’t seem to realize that, a Birmingham Business Alliance official told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce last week. Many people have heard about economic activity in Huntsville and Mobile, but the seven-county Birmingham-Hoover area is responsible for 31 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, said Rick Davis, the Birmingham Business Alliance’s vice president for economic development. – Hoover Sun

Marshall County retools for success

Marshall County has a long history of successful manufacturing operations, and that legacy is helping to shape its future. Several of the northeastern Alabama county’s newer industrial residents have transformed buildings that were operated for decades by companies from another era. For example, the former Accutek electronics factory in Arab is now the new wheel bearing facility for Progress Rail, which created 100 jobs at the site. – Made In Alabama/ANC

Alliant to manage Dothan’s Medical Center Barbour

Kentucky-based Alliant Management Services has signed a lease with the Healthcare Authority of Eufaula to manage Medical Center Barbour, which had previously been under the umbrella of Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan. Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs has been working on getting a new partner to manage MCB for about five months. – Dothan Eagle

Warrior Met beats Zacks’ expectations for quarter

Warrior Met Coal LLC (NYSE:HCC) announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday. The company reported $2.22 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.98 by $0.24. The business had revenue of $253.96 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $363.34 million. Shares of Warrior Met Coal opened at 17.76 on Monday. – Transcript Daily

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Friday, May 19


Prattville to get a $220M Hardie Building Products plant

James Hardie Building Products will invest up to $220 million to open an advanced fiber-cement building products manufacturing plant in Prattville, creating 205 jobs. The company is a leading high-technology manufacturer of numerous types of fiber-cement products with a range of applications having performance and design advantages, including external siding, trim and panels as well as interior floor and tile underlay, sold in markets around the world under brand names such as HardiePlank and HardieBacker. – Business Facilities

Some states, including Alabama, lag on recovery

Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico, and West Virginia are still short of pre-recession job levels by multiple measures. That contrasts with states including Colorado, North Dakota, Texas and Utah, where employment numbers have soared. Nationwide, job numbers surpassed pre-recession peaks in the middle of 2014, about the same time Mississippi was saddled with the nation's highest unemployment rate. – USN&WR

Ivey signs new law that could help cities land jobs

Gov. Kay Ivey barely had time to sit down at a signing ceremony before Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange stepped forward to hand her a pen. A few seconds later he was all smiles as Ivey signed the bill to revise and extend a state incentives program that helps cities land new jobs. The new law is an update to the Alabama Jobs Act that was passed in 2015. That act gave cities access to state money for site acquisition and infrastructure improvements, among other things, during the recruitment process as they tried to woo major projects. – Montgomery Advertiser

Florence will soon see Sunday liquor sales

Alcohol sales in several northwest Alabama cities are changing. Requested by five municipalities, the state Legislature changed when and where alcohol can be sold on Sunday. For as long as it has been around – beer, wine and liquor sales in stores have been off-limits on Sundays in Florence. – WHNT

Politicians all talk, no action on prisons

No other issue exposes Alabama politicians’ cheap political rhetoric than Montgomery’s lack of action when it comes to law enforcement and criminal justice. On the campaign stump, most Alabama politicians seem to be in a race to see who can talk toughest about making sure wrongdoers are locked up for a long, long time. The key word here is “talk, ” of course. – Anniston Star

But will new R&D facility count chickens before they hatch?

Wayne Farms has started construction on a research and development facility that will bring 20 jobs to its poultry processing plant in Decatur. According to the Decatur Daily and a company spokesman, the town will have these jobs in 2018 after the 15, 000-square-foot, $5 million facility is finished. – Meat+Poultry

Four automakers agree to $553M Takata settlement

Four automakers agreed to a $553 million settlement to address class-action economic loss claims covering owners of nearly 16 million recalled vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed on Thursday. Toyota Motor Corp.'s share of the settlement costs is $278.5 million, followed by BMW AG at $131 million, Mazda at $76 million and Subaru Corp. at $68 million. – Automotive News

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Thursday, May 18


Coke United saves the day at Maxwell Air Base show

The situation was dire. It was 3 p.m. on April 8, the first day of a two-day air show at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. About 140, 000 people would eventually pour in to watch some of the military’s top pilots perform under a sweltering sun. And water was running low. Then organizers put in a call to Coca-Cola Bottling Company United. – Montgomery Advertiser

Report from Asia suggests Austal up-gunning LCS designs

A new model of a trimaran vessel from Austal USA is on display that could be one of the designs on offer for the U.S. Navy’s future frigate program. The frigate design uses the same platform as the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that the company has already built for the Navy, but with increased lethality and greater multi-mission capabilities installed for sea control missions. – Shephard Media

Report: Alabama attracted $4.2B in new capital last year

Companies announced plans for more than 14, 700 new jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in capital investment in Alabama during 2016, according to an analysis prepared by the Alabama Department of Commerce that chronicles wide-ranging economic development activity across the state last year. The 2016 New & Expanding Industry Report, released Wednesday by Gov. Kay Ivey and the Commerce Department, provides a detailed look at 405 projects recorded in the state. – ANC

Wahlburgers becomes first big Owa restaurant reveal

A restaurant chain owned by chef Paul Wahlberg in partnership with his brothers and actors Donnie and Mark, is opening its first Alabama storefront location inside the OWA entertainment venue in Foley. Wahlburgers is scheduled to open in August and will be the brand's second largest restaurant. It was the first “major tenant” to be announced at the OWA site, which features an amusement park scheduled to open in mid-July. – AL.com

Judge extends stay on workers’ comp ruling

A week after a Jefferson County circuit judge struck down Alabama's Workers' Compensation Act,  the same judge issued a further order today staying it indefinitely until the Alabama Legislature can act. Circuit Judge Pat Ballard on May 8 found two provisions, the $220 a week cap in compensation and the 15 percent cap on attorneys fees, unconstitutional. However, because one or more provisions were found unconstitutional, the entire act is nullified. – AL.com

Marsh says he won’t be running for Sessions seat

Republican state Senate leader Del Marsh of Alabama will not get into the race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former seat in the US. Senate. Marsh said Wednesday he decided against seeking the seat now held by Republican Luther Strange. Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in April in the wake of a sex-tinged scandal. Marsh says state government needs stability. – WVTM

Plenty of others will try to be our next senator

A few big names dropped out before the end of qualifying Wednesday, but the ballots for the U.S. Senate primary in August will still be long. 19 people — 11 Republicans and 8 Democrats — qualified with their respective parties to seek the U.S. Senate seat, now held by Luther Strange, appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley in February. The primary is Aug. 15. – Montgomery Advertiser

Companies love Troy University’s business matchmaker event

Lynn Carter has been to her share of networking events, as a general contractor for the Department of Defense. She took advantage of Troy University’s business matchmaker event on Wednesday to meet with several agencies. The event is an opportunity for these businesses to network with multiple agencies under one roof, but there’s a catch. You only get a limited amount of time to connect. – ANN

Lawsuits claim Georgia carpet industry polluting Alabama water

Stain-blocking chemicals used in carpet found their way into Alabama water supplies and are now the subject of lawsuits against dozens of carpet and chemical manufacturers. A pair of lawsuits by Alabama municipal water utilities is “just the tip of the iceberg, ” said attorney Rhon Jones of Beasley Allen P.C. in Montgomery, who is representing the utilities. Water systems throughout the U.S. have filed or are working on filing similar lawsuits over water contaminated with the perfluorinated chemicals PFOA and PFOS. – Bloomberg 

compiled by dave helms

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