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Top News Links: Wednesday, Dec. 9

Avion Solutions OK’d for commercial drone use

The list of Huntsville companies getting into the commercial unmanned aerial systems, or drone business is increasing. Avion Solutions has joined the ranks after the Federal Aviation Administration gave the company an exemption to perform civil UAS operations for potential customers. Some of these services include training, data collection and other business ventures. – WAAY

Viva Health headquarters to get $7M upgrade

Viva Health's parent company is embarking on a $7.27 million renovation of its Birmingham headquarters that could bring up to 400 more jobs downtown. The purpose of the renovation is to house the 300 to 400 workers who would help Viva administer its Medicaid regional care organizations, also known as RCOs. These organizations are allotted a set amount per month to manage the health of Medicaid recipients. – AL.com

Birmingham Coke bottler expanding to Atlanta

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United Inc. has completed a number of expansions in recent years, but its latest deal is particularly notable. The Birmingham-based bottler has signed a letter of intent with The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) to expand its distribution territory to Coca-Cola's hometown of Atlanta, as well as several other areas in north and central Georgia. Athens, Macon and Rome, Ga., are also part of the expanded territory. – BizJournals.com

DOT now wants to question state on cutbacks

Federal transportation officials will investigate whether Alabama violated civil rights laws by cutting back on motor vehicle services in predominantly black counties. The cutbacks already are under fire by civil rights activists who say they make it harder to get a photo ID, a requirement to vote under a new state law. – Montgomery Advertiser

Here’s a roundup of 2015 tax developments

The Spring 2015 legislative session and two special sessions during late summer and early fall produced a number of noteworthy tax bills, including the Alabama Jobs Act and Alabama Reinvestment and Abatement Act. In addition, the Alabama Department of Revenue (the “ADOR”) proposed to define “significant” economic activity to purportedly require certain retailers that lack a physical presence to collect and remit the seller’s use tax. – JDSupra

Jefferson County’s bonds rating gets a boost

Jefferson County, which emerged from the second-biggest U.S. bankruptcy in 2013, had its credit rating raised to investment grade by Moody’s Investors Service, boosted by a “well-performing” economy and government cuts. The ratings on Jefferson County’s $83.4 million in general-obligation bonds and $623.3 million in limited-obligation school warrants were raised to Baa3 from Ba3. – Bloomberg

Huntsville signs off on GE Aviation deal

GE Aviation's nearly $200 million silicon carbide materials project in Huntsville will begin taking shape by spring of next year. The Huntsville City Council unanimously approved a development agreement last week for two adjacent factories on a 100-acre site on the south side of Interstate 565 at the Greenbrier Road exit in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. – AL.com

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