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Top News Links: Wednesday, Feb. 24

China top market for Alabama-made vehicles

The value of Alabama auto exports topped $7 billion last year, a record annual total and a 5.8 percent gain from 2014. Meanwhile, overseas shipments of Alabama-made motor vehicle parts reached $1.2 billion, an 18 percent increase. In 2015, China was the top export market for Alabama vehicles, growing nearly 9 percent to $2 billion and knocking Canada out of the top spot, according to trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. – Made In Alabama

Birmingham’s minimum wage proposal appears stuck

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Birmingham's plan to raise the city's minimum hourly wage to $10.10 can't take effect immediately because it doesn't leave business owners adequate time to prepare. The Birmingham City Council voted 6-2 Tuesday to have the minimum wage ordinance take effect Wednesday, although Deputy City Attorney Thomas Bentley said it was unlikely to be published or signed by then. – AP/ABC3340

Sierra Nevada to build new facility near Huntsville

Sierra Nevada Corp. will create 200 jobs with a new aircraft and modernization facility at the Madison County Executive Airport in Meridianville. The $4 million to $6 million project will begin in March with a 30,000-square-foot first phase, followed by a second phase that will span 100,000 square feet for future programs. The plant will be equipped for future fixed- and rotary-winged support. – AL.com

Birmingham company gets $480K for blowing whistle

A longtime Birmingham company that specializes in graphite products for the steel industry is being awarded $480,000 as part of a settlement for blowing the whistle on a competitor that imported graphite from China in violation of U.S. anti-dumping laws. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2013 by Graphite Electrode Sales of Birmingham against Ameri-Source. – AL.com

Thousands without power after storms

Alabama Power officials say more than 8,000 customers were without power after storms rolled through the state. The utility company said before dawn Wednesday about 8,200 customers statewide were without power, with about 4,400 of them in the metro Birmingham area. Another 1,600 customers were in Tuscaloosa; 1,100 more were in Anniston; and another 700 in the Eufaula area. – AP/Baytown Sun

Verizon named top network in state by RootMetrics

Verizon customers in Alabama are enjoying all the benefits of the top performing wireless network in the state, as rated by the new Alabama RootScore Report by RootMetrics. RootMetrics is an independent mobile analytics firm that uses off-the-shelf consumer smartphones to test the network capabilities of all four major U.S. wireless carriers in six network performance categories across various geographies. – News release

Woman’s family awarded $72M in talcum powder case

A Missouri jury has awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer, which she said was caused by using Johnson & Johnson's well-known baby powder and other products containing talcum. The civil suit by Jackie Fox of Birmingham was part of a broader claim in the city of St. Louis Circuit Court involving nearly 60 people. – CBS

What’s behind college mergers in Alabama?

Many more universities are set to merge or restructure in an effort to save money, a credit rating agency has predicted. In its latest analysis of higher education globally, Moody’s states that both governments and universities themselves will seek further mergers to improve efficiency. – TimesHigherEducation

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