Top News: Gas Tax Applauded; GulfQuest Gets New Leader

Toyota Boshoku building $50M factory, creating 400 jobs in Athens
Toyota Boshoku is building a $50 million manufacturing plant in Athens, bringing with it 400 new jobs. The new auto part factory will be in Breeding North Industrial Park and produce seat systems for vehicles built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. facility in Huntsville. Construction will begin in May. – WVTM

Bill dies, Alabamians to continue buying booze across state line
The Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development committee voted Wednesday against giving a favorable report to a bill that would have privatized the state’s liquor stores. Senate Bill 77 was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. A public hearing was held on the eighth floor of the Statehouse on Wednesday, but the bill failed in committee on a 3 to 5 vote. – Alabama Political Reporter

Former mayor to take helm at Mobile’s GulfQuest
GulfQuest has a new captain and former Mobile mayor Mike Dow has a new mandate: to lead fundraising and provide strategic guidance for the museum’s board. The appointment of Dow as the executive director of the museum came Wednesday from the office of Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. – AL.com

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Business leaders applaud Ivey for gas tax measure
Business leaders in Montgomery gave Gov. Kay Ivey her first round of applause before she was introduced for a Wednesday morning speech, when another speaker brought up her push for a gas tax increase to fund road work. Ivey got another round when she mentioned the tax during her speech. “It absolutely took a strong team effort to get that crucial piece of legislation passed,” she said before being drowned out by cheers. – Montgomery Advertiser

NSF grant to advance robotics at Gadsden State
A $435,169 National Science Foundation grant will help create an advanced automation program at Gadsden State Community College. The money will be used to create an automated industrial line, with programmable logic controllers, a robot and conveyor system, as well as develop curriculum for the program. – AL.com

Medical helicopter base closes in east Alabama, worrying responders
First Responders in Alabama are worried about the critical care of their patients.  This comes after the company, Air Methods, announced they will stop servicing their base in Rainbow City.  For fire departments in the eastern part of Alabama, they are concerned about how this will affect their calls. – CBS

Walmart renovating 14 Alabama stores, spending $69 million
Walmart is committing an estimated $69 million this year to renovating 14 Alabama stores, the company announced. The mega-retailer also plans expanded services at several of its locations in state. By the end of the year, Walmart plans to expand its free grocery pickup option to 27 stores, and its grocery delivery service to 22 stores in-state. – AL.com 

New union election sought for VW plant in Chattanooga
For the third time in about five years, some Volkswagen plant workers in Chattanooga are seeking an election to align with the United Auto Workers. “It’s pressure from the workers,” said Steve Cochran, president of UAW Local 42 in Chattanooga, about why the election petition was filed Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board. The petition said that at least 30 percent of the 1,709 production, skilled trades and other employees making up the proposed election unit have turned over cards seeking representation by the UAW. – TimesFreePress

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