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Top News Links: Friday, August 4

Houston still smarting over loss of Blue Origin

Houston Spaceport lost out on a rocket engine manufacturing facility that could have brought a $200 million investment and 342 well-paying jobs. Blue Origin, the space company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, instead chose Huntsville, which boasts an experienced work force and political support. The project had been seen as a way to jump-start development at the Houston Spaceport, which wants to create a cluster of aerospace companies but has just one tenant. – Chron.com

TreeHouse Foods cutting workforce, including 135 in Alabama

TreeHouse Foods will lay off about 375 workers and close two factories in Minnesota and Indiana, as the packaged food maker cuts costs. The layoffs, announced Thursday, make up about 2 percent of the 16,000 people the company employed at the end of last year. It has more than 50 factories in the U.S., Canada and Italy. An additional 135 employees at a Dothan plant will be laid off. But that factory, which produces trail mixes, will remain open. – AP/USN&WR

Guntersville now has AT&T Fiber Ready business park

Connors Island Business Park in Guntersville is now certified as "AT&T Fiber Ready," officials announced. "The availability of fiber-optic facilities with high-speed communications capabilities is one of the checkpoints when a business is considering a site for relocation or expansion," Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar said. – AL.com

No more dog racing at Mobile Greyhound Park

An Alabama park will cease greyhound races by the end of the month, requiring new homes for nearly 400 dogs. WALA-TV reports Wind Creek Hospitality announced Monday that Mobile Greyhound Park will stop live greyhound racing at the end of the month in response to declining market demand. – WALA/Sun Herald

EDPA plans Oscars-style celebration for business leaders

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will hand out the “imerge” EDPA 2017 Innovation Awards as part of an Oscars-style celebration on Aug. 23 at the Alabama Theatre. “The EDPA Innovation Awards showcases the most innovative companies in our state,” EDPA President Steve Spencer said. “The winners, and for that matter all of the nominees, are leaders in their spaces, driving forward Alabama’s innovation economy.” – ANC

Alabama offers sales tax amnesty program for online sellers

Amazon sellers owing an estimated $2 billion in uncollected sales taxes are being offered the chance to waive those obligations as part of a new multi-state agreement. Thirteen states including Alabama came together on Wednesday to announce a new sales tax amnesty program for online merchants who sell on Amazon and other sites. For three months starting Aug. 17, sellers with potential tax liability can sign up with the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC), enabling them to become compliant and pay taxes only on future sales. – CNBC

BathWraps added to Jacuzzi portfolio in Birmingham

Jacuzzi Inc. has decided to add the one-day bathroom transformation brand BathWraps to its portfolio. And now, fueled by the new ownership, BathWraps is set to grow in Alabama, with Birmingham as the first market in the strategic growth plan. BathWraps dealers install brand-new showers, bathtubs and Jacuzzi Walk-in Bathtubs for their customers in just one day. – News release

UAW vote under way at Nissan plant in Mississippi

A sensitive labor issue is the divide between temporary workers and full-time employees doing similar work for different pay. This is one of the factors behind an attempt by the United Automobile Workers, the UAW, to unionize Nissan's plant in Canton, Miss. It's an uphill battle since autoworkers in the South have repeatedly rejected unionization. – APR

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