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Top News Links: Wednesday, Feb. 22

Alabama exports hit record $20.6B in 2016

Exports from Alabama-made products totaled nearly $20.6 billion last year, according to the governor's office. The number is record high for exports in the state. The previous record was $19.6 billion in 2012. Alabama Department of Commerce's Office of International Trade says exports of Alabama-made transportation products include automobiles, aircraft parts, chemicals and metals. They were shipped to 189 countries last year. – Montgomery Advertiser

University of Mobile announces sweeping changes

Less than one year into the new administration of University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith, the Christian university in south Alabama announced a major expansion of academic programs, opened a state-of-the-art healthcare learning lab, and revealed an innovative four-day academic week. – News release

Publix construction in Mobile halts over vegetation issues

Following complaints about tree and vegetation removal at the site of Mobile's Midtown Publix shopping center, the city has issued a notice of possible violation and a stop-work order on the project. The issue apparently began on Monday, when some residents of nearby neighborhoods began to raise concerns that contractors had gone too far in removing vegetation, particularly trees on the southeastern portion of the site. – AL.com

Facebook founder extends Bama visit to Birmingham

The founder of Facebook continued his visit to Alabama on Monday by visiting Birmingham and meeting with a former death-row inmate who was later exonerated. Mark Zuckerberg met with Anthony Ray Hinton according to a post to his Facebook page. – ABC3340

Bryant Bank expanding to Orange Beach

Bryant Bank is proud to announce that it will expand its financial services into Orange Beach. Renovations at 24847 Commercial Avenue are expected to complete at the end of April with a targeted grand opening in May. Greg Strachan serves as the Baldwin County Market President. Doug Sizemore, SVP of Commercial Lending, has been tapped to oversee the Orange Beach operations. – News release

Next financial crisis might be sitting in your driveway

Lured by low interest rates, low gas prices, and a crop of seductive vehicles that are faster, smarter, and more efficient than ever before, American drivers are increasingly riding in style. Don’t be fooled by the curb appeal, though—those swanky machines are heavily leveraged. – Bloomberg

Warrior Met to hire 200 coal miners at Brookwood

Warrior Met Coal is hiring. Company spokesman Bill Stanhouse said today Warrior Met plans to hire up to 200 underground mine workers. Stanhouse said the company would prefer to hire experienced workers, who will man the No. 4 and No. 7 mines at Brookwood. – AL.com

Automakers anxious to undo Obama EPA emission rules

A trade association representing General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and nine other automakers on Tuesday asked new EPA chief Scott Pruitt to withdraw an Obama administration decision to lock in vehicle emission rules through 2025. – Automotive News

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