Top Headlines: ProctorU merger, Prison study commission prepares report

ProctorU merges with Canadian firm
Birmingham-based online test security firm ProctorU is announcing a merger with a Canadian company. ProctorU and Yardstick Assessment Strategies, a psychometric and computer-based exam administration firm for professional testing organizations, are merging to form Meazure Learning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. At the same time, Meazure Learning has raised more than $30 million in growth capital led by Eastside Partners, which will allow investments in technology and services. –

Prison study commission about to make its report
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s study commission on criminal justice policy will make recommendations that could including sentencing changes and expanding the use of pretrial diversion programs. The panel met for the final time Tuesday and will submit recommendations to state lawmakers ahead of the legislative session that begins Feb. 5. – WHNT

Fund of $20 billion could bring high-speed internet to 200K Alabamians
The Federal Communication Commission is considering a $20 billion project that would bring high-speed broadband to an estimated 211,000 users in rural Alabama. Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund could affect about 6 million rural homes and businesses nationwide, according to the FCC. The money would go to census blocks with no broadband service meeting the Commission’s minimum speed standards. The FCC will vote Jan. 30 on launching the fund. –

Canfield to attend signing of U.S.-China trade deal
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will attend today’s ceremonial signing of the Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China at the White House. President Donald Trump will sign an 86-page agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. That preliminary deal between the two economic superpowers marks a thaw in the tensions between the two countries, including a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in coming years. – Made In Alabama

Birmingham company’s virtual biopsy software going global
Birmingham’s AI Metrics is partnering with a UK-based company to distribute its virtual liver biopsy software in a deal that could help stem the spread of chronic liver disease. IQ-AI Limited will globally distribute AI Metrics’ virtual liver biopsy software. The agreement, with IQ-AI subsidiary Imaging Biometrics, will enable chronic liver disease assessment using commonly acquired computed tomography, or CT, images. –

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Falling insurance coverage rates for children draws alarm
A report found more than 10,000 children in Alabama lost health insurance in a single year, part of a disturbing national trend. Community leaders and parents in the state are working to reverse that fact, given the importance of access to health care for families. Health care for children is “one of the few bragging points that we have in our health care system,” said Jim Carnes, policy director for Alabama Arise, a nonprofit advocacy group for low-income families in the state. –

Construction starts on new dorm at University of Alabama
Construction is underway on the new $150 million Tutwiler Residence Hall on the University of Alabama campus. The new 365,000-square-foot (33073.48-square-meter) dormitory will be home to 1,285 first-year female students. It will replace the existing Tutwiler Residence Hall, next to the site. Construction is set to be complete by mid-2022, reported. The new facility will be the third residence hall built on the campus over a 100-year time span honoring Julia Tutwiler, an education and prison reform advocate. – AP

Busted in Boaz: Scammers tied to gift card scheme
A multi-state fraud ring involving Walmart gift cards was broken up in Alabama. The Secret Service says victims were taken for tens of thousands of dollars using gift cards. Court documents list Zhen Chen and and Qiu Fubin as the people responsible for more than $90,000 in wire fraud across multiple states. The scam comes in a variety of versions and is always centered around Walmart gift cards. – ABC3340

BMW’s U.S. plant sets record for output in 2019
BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C., delivered a record 411,620 vehicles last year, as crossover demand soared. The 7 million square-foot factory, which assembles five BMW X-series crossovers, produced 15 percent more vehicles in 2019 than the prior year. Production volume topped the previous record, set in 2016, by 449 units. The plant has an annual capacity of 450,000 units. – Automotive News

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