Top Headlines: Holiday shopping hits record, Georgiana Medical Center closing

Holiday shopping hit a record $12 billion in state
The Alabama Retail Association said final figures confirm that 2018 holiday sales in Alabama set a record and topped $12 billion for the first time. According to the Revenue Department, shoppers in the state spent nearly $12.07 billion, up 2.66 percent from 2017. The numbers were just shy of the Alabama Retail Association’s prediction of $12.2 billion. – AP

Huntsville Hospital expanding to match city’s growth
You’ve heard, maybe, that Huntsville is on track to soon be Alabama’s largest city. And given those projections, Huntsville Hospital is trying to keep up. At a Wednesday press conference, hospital leaders discussed the major expansion first announced last year that will add 72 private patient rooms and 24 state-of-the-art operating rooms in a seven-story, 375,000-square-foot tower across Gallatin Street from the main hospital entrance. –

Another small hospital to close, this time in Georgiana
The Alabama Hospital Association’s president said this week’s announced closure of Georgiana Medical Center is just another indicator of an untenable situation – the costs to hospitals of providing healthcare without enough money being paid back. The hospital’s operator, Ivy Creek of Butler, says patient care will be directed to L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville after March 31. –

Civic innovation panel considers Birmingham’s future
“It’s about building an ecosystem that enables people to thrive,” says Anthony Hood. “It takes partnerships between universities, the corporate community, nonprofits and elected officials. That means cooperation and, in Birmingham, we’ve never seen the level of cooperation that we’re seeing today.” Hood is director of civic innovation at UAB, and his comments came in the introduction of a panel on that topic at the 15th annual A.G. Gaston Conference in Birmingham. – Alabama NewsCenter

Hyundai’s Santa Fe wins reliability honors
An automobile made in Alabama is garnering praise from a well-known marketing survey firm. Hyundai’s Santa Fe has been recognized as most dependable midsize SUV in the J.D. Power 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study. Santa Fe ranked highest in its class in the annual Vehicle Dependability Study, now in its 30th year. –

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No worries, we don’t make this one in Alabama
European aerospace behemoth Airbus has announced it will stop building its A380 superjumbo jet after the plane’s biggest customer, Dubai-based Emirates Airline, cut its order by 39 planes. Airbus has “no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years,” CEO Tom Enders said in a statement Thursday, adding: “Today’s announcement is painful.” – APR  

BMW’s top U.S. executive slams idea of higher auto tariffs
BMW’s North American boss has some tough words on tariffs, as automakers await a potentially pivotal decision on tariffs from the Trump administration. The Commerce Department is expected to deliver a report within days that many industry experts say could deem auto imports into the United States a threat to national security and seek tariffs as high as 25 percent on all vehicles imported into the U.S. The tariffs for most light vehicles is now at 2.5 percent. “If tariffs go up, it’s not good for the consumer, it’s not good for our dealer network, it is not good for the economy in total,” said Bernhard Kuhnt, CEO of BMW North America. – CNBC

Kia donates $75K to benefit Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia recently donated $75,000 to the West Georgia Health Foundation to benefit the Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange to assist cancer patients with transportation to treatments. The donation includes the purchase of a 2019 Sorento, maintenance, insurance and salary for a driver. – News release

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