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Top News Links: Monday, April 24

Tourism in state was a $13B business last year

A report says travelers spent more than $13 billion in Alabama last year. The study was conducted for the state tourism agency by an economist at Auburn University Montgomery. It says more than 25 million travelers spent a total of $13.4 billion in the state in 2016 on hotels, shopping, transportation and restaurants. The number represents an increase of 5.4 percent from the year before. Tourism Director Lee Sentell says travel spending doubled in the state over the last 14 years. – AL.com

Goodyear plant in Gadsden set for possible strike

The union that represents workers at Gadsden's Goodyear plant voted this week to authorize a strike. The vote with United Steelworkers Local 12L was taken ahead of contract negotiations scheduled to take place this year. The last contract negotiations with the company were in 2013 over a four-year deal, which was reached on the day before the existing contract was set to expire. – AL.com

Regions building $23M facility in Hattiesburg

An Alabama-based bank will invest $23 million into a new operations facility in Mississippi. Regions Financial Corp. is looking to hire around 420 workers when the facility is complete in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Al.com (http://bit.ly/2pjoUQh) reported. The bank plans to start construction on the 75,000-square-foot facility later this year. The new facility in Hattiesburg will primarily house workers from Regions Mortgage. Employees are spread through three different downtown facilities. – USN&WR

First neighborhood to be run by smart phones being planned

Alabama Power is partnering with Signature Homes to build the "Smart Neighborhood" with one main electrical system to power 62 homes. The template is to allow homeowners to control energy usage with a smart phone. Alabama Power Spokesperson Katie Bolton said the project is innovative, "New creative energy solutions that we can provide to make their lives easier." – ABC 3340

Mohammed Khan named senior VP at AR

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), today announced that Mohammed A. Khan, Jr. has joined the company as senior vice president of its recently formed Defense Business Unit. Khan will be based out of the company's Huntsville facility, its Defense headquarters. – Nasdaq

Molecular diagnostics company unveils new disease tests

BioGX, a Birmingham-based molecular diagnostics company, announced the launch of four additional CE-IVD infectious disease tests at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), reflecting the inspiring vision of ECCMID: "Managing Infections, Promoting Science".  BioGX has developed an extensive line of multiplex tests for infectious organisms that aid in early diagnosis and proactive management of infections. – News release

FDA sends warning letter to Safe Harbour Seafood

The Food and Drug Administration found serious food safety violations at two seafood facilities, one in Ecuador and one in Alabama, according to warning letters recently made public by the federal agency. Food companies that receive FDA warning letters have 15 working days to respond with an outline the specific things they are doing to correct violations. In an April 10 warning letter to President James R. Shutt, the FDA described problems at Safe Harbour Seafood Inc. that were documented during an inspection Feb. 13-17. – Food Safety News

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