Top Headlines: Alabama wins Gold Shovel Award, State commission to study AI technology

State’s development efforts win coveted Gold Shovel award
Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced Area Development, a national business publication, has selected Alabama for its Gold Shovel Award, recognizing the state’s economic development success in 2018. The honor follows a record year for Alabama, with companies announcing new facilities and expansion projects involving $8.7 billion in new capital investment. – E News Courier

State commission to study artificial intelligence technology
Alabama now has one of the first state commissions formed to study the policy implications of artificial intelligence technology. State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R–Vestavia Hills) proposed a joint resolution in the last legislative session, which Gov. Kay Ivey approved. The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies will make policy recommendations to advance AI’s growth in the state’s tech sector. – AL.com

Breaking down how Alabama’s new equal pay rule works
Alabama House Bill 225 enables anyone who has been fired, discriminated against, or retaliated against by their employer because of wage inequality to file a lawsuit against them. “It also allows for what’s called liquidated damages. So in other words, if you were to prove that you were owed $4,000, you would be able to double that amount so you would get $8,000 cause that’s what liquidated damages are,” says Appell. The drawback for employees: It doesn’t provide for attorney fees. – WTVM

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Chattanooga-based insurance group expands Alabama operations
Chattanooga-based Reliance Partners has opened a new office in Birmingham to speed the company’s growth in Alabama. Reliance, a commercial insurance provider for transportation and logistics firms, plans to add 40 new jobs over the next three years. Eddie Claridy leads the office. – AL.com

Scammers ask to use phone, then reroute lines at pizza stores
A team of scammers hit several pizza business locations in the Tennessee Valley, posing as someone who walks into the store and asks to use the phone to make an emergency call. Marco’s Pizza in Decatur, Alabama and Madison, Alabama have been victims of this scam. Shortly after the unknown scammer left, employees realized the phones weren’t ringing – definitely strange for the usual dinner rush. When management called the phone company, they learned the phone line had been rerouted to an untraceable number. – WHNT

Sacramento Bee notes their rocket loss is Alabama’s gain
Aerojet Rocketdyne, once a mainstay in the greater Sacramento-area economy, unveiled a new rocket propulsion facility in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of a larger pivot toward the South and Midwest. The 136,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility opened in Rocket City last week to begin production of solid rocket motor cases, missile hardware and other defense systems, according to an Aerojet news release. – Sacramento Bee

Florida approves use of driverless cars starting July 1
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday one of the country’s most progressive autonomous vehicle bills, paving the way for self-driving vehicles – without a human inside – to operate on Florida roads. Until now, state law has required a person to be inside an autonomous vehicle, acting as a backup in the case of a malfunction. That will change on July 1. – FOX 13 News

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