Top Headlines: New Auto Plant in Opelika; Film Industry Flocks to Alabama

Drones give eye-in-the-sky help to tornado responders
With roads blocked by fallen trees after the deadly tornado in east-central Alabama that killed 23, the first few rescuers climbed fields of debris to search for survivors, but there weren’t enough of them to cover such a wide area. But they soon got eyes in the air – in the form of infrared-equipped drones. Rescuers used the drones to find the remnants of homes in areas that were tough to reach, then to send teams to clear the way to the search site. – USA Today

Austal, Ingalls among companies chasing new frigate
The Navy has issued a draft request for proposal to design and build its planned class of 20 next-generation guided-missile frigates. The detailed design and construction RFP draft will serve as a practice run for shipbuilders to pitch their designs for the small surface combatants that are set to follow on the two classes of Littoral Combat Ships in production. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal USA, Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri Marine and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works were awarded $15 million each last year to refine their own frigate parent designs. – USNI

Shipping line adds more Asian ports of call
International shipping line CMA-CGM has added to its PEX-3 Asia Service, offering new market options for containerized cargo shippers at the Port of Mobile.  CMA-CGM added the Port of Vung Tau, Vietnam to its Asia service that already call on Mobile and the ports of Singapore, Hong Kong, Shekou, Ningbo, Shanghai and Busan. – News release

Auto supplier Yongsan plants first U.S roots in Opelika, employing 150
Yongsan Automotive USA is investing $5.5 million to open a manufacturing facility in Opelika, that will employ 150 workers after three years. “I’m excited to welcome Yongsan to the Opelika community,” Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said in an Alabama Department of Commerce press statement. “We want businesses to grow and be successful here, and we are glad to support them. We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Yongsan’s leaders and its employees.” –

Gas tax hike won’t travel a road free of potholes
The Alabama Legislature began its special session on Wednesday, as proclaimed by Governor Kay Ivey late Tuesday night. Per her call, lawmakers will deal directly with a proposed 10-cent gas tax increase and other measures aimed at infrastructure. Wednesday was a quick session in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The majority of the work during the rest of the day was in meetings to gain an understanding of the bill and who can support it. – WHNT

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Alabama seeing stars as film industry flocks here
Building on a record-setting year for film projects in Alabama, the stage appears set for a sequel, with a string of movie productions already filming in the state or getting cameras and crews ready for action. Since Oct. 1, more than a dozen movie and TV productions have qualified for state incentives available to entertainment projects that hire Alabamians and spend money in the state, said Kathy Faulk with the Alabama Film Office, part of the Alabama Department of Commerce. – ANC

Hyundai unveils next-generation Sonata coming this fall
Hyundai Motor Company unveiled images of the next-generation Sonata in South Korea Tuesday, giving a glimpse of the sedan that will begin rolling off the assembly line in Montgomery this fall. The 2020 Sonata will be the eighth generation of the vehicle and is another bold move forward in styling from the predecessor model that was released in 2014 and had minor cosmetic changes in the years since. – ANC

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