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Top News Links: Wednesday, Dec. 7

Highest court affirms State Farm’s Katrina fraud

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a jury verdict finding that State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. defrauded the federal government after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. In the years before the hurricane, State Farm issued both federal government-backed flood insurance policies and general homeowners policies. After the hurricane, the company ordered its claims adjusters to misclassify wind damage as flood damage to shift liability to the government. – APR

Google running out of time to start center in 2016

With just days remaining in 2016, leaders in Jackson County, Alabama have expressed uncertainty on whether Google will actually build its $600 million data center announced last year. Google still advertises construction on the data center, which would be located in Bridgeport on former Tennessee Valley Authority property. "They just don't tell us a lot," said Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce president Rick Roden last month. – WAAY

Nucor buying Southland Tube for $130M

Charlotte-based steelmaker Nucor has agreed to buy Birmingham's Southland Tube for $130 million, the companies announced Tuesday. Southland Tube was founded in Birmingham in 1987 and acquired by the Montgomery family in 1995. It makes and sells tubular products used mostly in the construction industry. – AL.com

JCPenney to close at Huntsville’s Madison Square Mall

JCPenney has announced it will close the store at Madison Square Mall on January 28, 2017. Approximately 120 associates will be impacted by the closure, a company spokesperson said. JCPenney currently operates 20 stores in the state of Alabama, including the Huntsville location. – WHNT

Empire Building transforming into Marriott property

As a developer turns the 1909 Empire Building in downtown Birmingham from a ghost that once housed banks and offices to a modern Marriott concept, Ascent Hospitality promises a blend of old and new. The Empire Hotel is scheduled to open to the public in late March or early April after a $45 million redevelopment of the iconic building at 1928 1st Ave. as a luxury Marriott hotel with a restaurant, 117 bedrooms, a gym, lounge, meeting space and rooftop bar. – AL.com

SBA announces counties available for drought loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations located in Alabama as a result of the recent drought. Counties included are: Autauga, Baldwin, Butler, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Escambia, Geneva, Houston, Lowndes, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Washington and Wilcox. – WTVY

Daniel Foundation gives $225,000 gift to Southern Research

The Daniel Foundation of Alabama is supporting Southern Research's economic development activities with a $225,000 grant, building on the longstanding ties between the two Birmingham organizations. The gift will provide a boost to Southern Research programs and projects that raise the profile of Birmingham and Alabama. – News release

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