Top Headlines: Arkema celebrates Mobile expansion, Hangout Fest amps up economy

Arkema celebrates expansion of Mobile-area plant
Officials from Arkema celebrated an Alabama plant expansion on Monday, saying a new unit in the Mobile area is at the forefront of producing a next-generation polymer material with far-reaching uses. The unit at Arkema’s plant in Axis, north of Mobile, produces PEKK (Poly-Ether-Ketone-Ketone), a plastic that company officials say is as strong as aluminum but much lighter, is resistant to heat and chemical corrosion and can be used in 3D printing. –

Hangout Music Fest amps up Alabama economy to tune of $45 million
Hangout Music Fest has a $45 million economic impact on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, a new report finds. The annual music and cultural festival, which drew a high of 44,000 visitors in 2017, is responsible for supporting 581 jobs and generates $1.8 million in taxes. The study was conducted by Keivan Deravi, professor of economics at Auburn University at Montgomery. Since starting in 2010, the festival has had an estimated $290 million economic impact, the study found. – ANC

Vice President Pence in Alabama today for space meeting
Vice President Mike Pence will be in Huntsville Tuesday to chair the fifth meeting of the National Space Council. The event will take place at Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. The focus will be on President Donald Trump’s plan to restore American leadership in space. – WVTM

Republican lawmakers say more money needed to expand Medicaid
Some Republican leaders in Montgomery might have cracked open the door to Medicaid expansion in Alabama, but also say it won’t become a reality unless a funding source can be identified. Alabama is one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. While the federal government would pick up 90% of the cost, the state’s share would be an estimated $168 million in 2020. – WVTM

First employees for new Airbus line report for training
The first employees of the new Airbus assembly line in Mobile reported for work Monday, according to the company. The assembly line itself is in the early phases of construction. When complete, it will be one of two sites in the world where Airbus produces the A220 family of aircraft, a single-aisle, twin-engine line of jets that is somewhat smaller than the A320-family jets that Airbus already assembles in Mobile. –

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Statewide home sales in February up 11 percent from one year ago
Alabama statewide home sales totaled 4,222 units during February, up 10.9 percent from 3,807 sales in the same month a year earlier. February sales were up 25.7 percent compared to 3,358 sales in January. Results were 23.9 percent above the five-year February average of 3,409 sales. The statewide median home sales price in February was $157,319, an increase of 3 percent from one year ago. – ANC

Alabama court affirms $1.25M wrongful termination settlement
The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that an Alabama man who was wrongfully terminated is entitled to seek lost future earnings totaling $1.25 million. The Hattiesburg American reported that the justices said Merchants Foodservice used faulty logic to argue against the award for former truck driver Denny Rice. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi-based company argued Rice shouldn’t get lost future earnings because he had a new job that paid more. – Insurance Journal

Sentencing today for Round House fraud figure
A man who pleaded guilty to scamming an Alabama town for nearly $2 million is due in federal court to find out how long he will go to prison. Sentencing for 43-year-old Kyle Sandler is scheduled for Tuesday morning in Montgomery. Sandler moved to the east Alabama town of Opelika in 2011 and later opened a business incubator called the Round House. He pleaded guilty last year to fraud for taking about $1.9 million from more than 50 investors. – AP

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