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Top News Links: Thursday, Dec. 10

Raytheon wins $543M missile contract

The Missile Defense Agency has just awarded Raytheon a $543 million contract for 17 new and improved SM-3 Block IIA missiles. SM-3 IIA is a joint program between MDA and the Japan Ministry of Defense that will expand the capabilities on both Japanese and Aegis ships according to Raytheon. Work will be done in Huntsville and other Raytheon sites. – WAAY

Shared costs to Alabama employers drops to zero

Shared costs to Alabama employers have dropped to zero for calendar year 2016, the Department of Labor announced. This is the first time this has happened since 1991. "This reduction in taxes for Alabama's employers is great news," Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. – AL.com

St. Vincent’s has ribbon cutting, blessing ceremony

St. Vincent's Health System held a ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony on Wednesday for the expansion of its St. Vincent's One Nineteen Campus in Birmingham. Attendees joined together to celebrate the expansion, which will open in January and include outpatient surgery, urgent care and offices. – AL.com

Auburn professors win Alabama Innovation Fund grants

Two Auburn University professors have been awarded Alabama Innovation Fund grants through the Alabama Department of Commerce for research involving efficient energy systems and catfish vaccines. – Auburn.edu

Students introduced to magic of computer coding

On Tuesday, Jeff Gray, a professor in the University of Alabama's College of Engineering, handed a student at the Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School a smooth white ball about the size of a tennis ball. After linking the ball, called a Sphero, wirelessly to his laptop computer through Bluetooth, Gray asked the student holding Sphero to wave her hands and say a magic word. – Tuscaloosa News

‘SEC Primary’ puts state atop pile

Bill Stewart, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama, said the new primary structure – which has Alabama taking part in the so-called "SEC primary" – will raise the state's profile among candidates running for president. – BizJournals.com

Bentley waives fees on God plates

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is ordering the state Department of Revenue to waive the fee for license plates that read "God Bless America." Bentley said in a statement Wednesday that drivers who want the plates will continue to be able to request them at no cost. – ABC 3340

Alabamians flooding in for Obamacare

Call it Black Tuesday. The deadline for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act to begin Jan. 1 is Tuesday, and the ACA call center is gearing up for the last-minute crunch with 77,000 agents and brokers ready to help with questions. As of Dec. 5, 64,775 Alabamians had enrolled for coverage. That almost matches the total of 64,926 a year ago, even though the biggest rush is still to come. – Decatur Daily

Two Birmingham accounting firms to combine

Birmingham accounting firms Dent Baker & Co. LLP and Moses Phillips Young Brannon & Henninger LLP are combining to form Dent Moses LLP. Financial terms of the deal, which will take effect Jan. 1, were not disclosed. – BizJournals.com

Taziki’s opens 50th location in Tulsa

Taziki's Mediterranean Café recently opened its 50th location in Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 8, and two additional locations are planned by year’s end.  With these new openings, Taziki’s will reach 40% growth in 2015. This year Taziki’s opened stores in four new states; Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky and Oklahoma, expanding its reach to 15 states. – News release

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