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Top News Links: Thursday, August 17

Briggs and Stratton’s shuffled business plan includes Alabama expansion

Wisconsin-based Briggs and Stratton Corp. announced a “business optimization program” Wednesday expected to generate up to $35 million in savings annually by fiscal 2019. The plan, which will cost $50 million to $55 million, includes expanding production of Vanguard commercial engines into the company’s existing large engine plants. Briggs will expand production at its Auburn facility. – BizTimes

Meridian at the Port breaks ground in Mobile

Groundbreaking for Mobile's Meridian at the Port apartment complex on Wednesday was accompanied by new images illustrating backers' claims that it will be a transformative project for downtown. In the renderings, the five-story, 267-unit development is a large and distinctive presence on the east side of Water Street, a location that will make it one of the first landmarks seen by visitors arriving via I-165. It includes an impressive poolside view of the Mobile skyline. – AL.com

Alabama’s new online currency law goes into effect

Alabama has a new law that covers financial transactions in the online age. This month the Alabama Monetary Transmission Act became law. The Alabama Legislature passed it back in May. Replacing the 1961 "Sale of Checks Act," the new law covers everything from bitcoin to regulation of money transfers. It also gives law enforcement new tools to track international financial crimes. – AL.com

Walker County penny tax voted down, bankruptcy now on table

Voters in Walker County on Tuesday rejected a measure to increase a local sales tax by a penny, an outcome local officials warned could force the county to file for bankruptcy. "Absolutely, it's a serious consideration," Walker County Commissioner Steven Aderholt said on Wednesday with poll results showing the measure going down to defeat. – Reuters

Alabama AG sues Birmingham for covering Confederate memorial

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is filing a suit against the city of Birmingham and Mayor Bell for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. The suit comes after Mayor Bell ordered a Confederate monument in Linn Park be covered. The act, passed in May, provides sweeping protections for Confederate monuments and other long-standing historic markers. – ABC3340

Corporate CEOs parachute away from White House councils

With corporate chieftains fleeing, President Donald Trump abruptly abolished their White House business councils on Wednesday — the latest fallout from his combative comments on racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a face-saving effort, he tweeted from Trump Tower in New York: "Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!" – AP/Chronicle-Herald

Applebees rebranding failed to impress millennials

Applebee's announced this month that more than 130 of its restaurants will close by the end of the year. The casual dining chain rebranded itself in the past few years as a modern bar and grill. Applebee's executive John Cywinski recently told investors that the company had hoped the effort would attract a new kind of customer. – APR 

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