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Top News Links: Thursday, January 18

Texas auto plant apologetic: Not flat enough

At least 22 states pitched different locations for the new Toyota-Mazda plant and the company looked at more than 100 different sites, according to Toyota's North America CEO Jim Lentz, who spoke to The Dallas Morning News from the Detroit Auto Show. Ultimately, he said, logistic concerns were the deciding factor. “If you look at the different locations, the site itself was important -- how flat it was, how close was it was to rail and highways and all that,” Lentz said. – Dallas News

Toyota-Mazda development agreements signed in Huntsville

The Toyota-Mazda deal is official. Mayor Tommy Battle, Limestone County Commission Chair Mark Yarbrough, and Hundley Batts - Chair of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Huntsville signed the development agreement for Toyota-Mazda on Wednesday. – WHNT

Coca-Cola signs with NASCAR, ISC through 2023

Coca-Cola, International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR have announced an extension to each of its long-standing partnerships through 2023. Coca-Cola will continue its deep-rooted history in the sport by engaging racing fans across NASCAR’s three national series and 12 ISC-operated race tracks, including NASCAR’s most competitive track – Talladega Superspeedway. – News release

Huntsville’s PeopleTec gets $33.6M missile contract

PeopleTec of Huntsville has been awarded a $33.6 million contract for engineering and support by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The contract covers systems advisory and engineering activities for international programs in the Ballistic Missile Defense System, according to the U.S. Defense Department. – AL.com

Mercedes to test vehicle subscription model in U.S.

Mercedes-Benz plans to launch a vehicle subscription pilot program in the U.S. market this year. Automotive News said the company is looking to see if its subscription model can work for the long-term. BMW, Lincoln and Volvo, are testing their own services. A subscription service offers a vehicle to drive for a monthly fee that allows customers to switch among available vehicles. – AL.com

Bassmaster Elite tourny set for Feb. 8-11 in Alex City

B.A.S.S., the world’s largest fishing organization, will host the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge, Feb. 8-11, in Alexander City, Ala. This event marks the 14th time B.A.S.S. has held a tournament on Lake Martin and is the first of nine regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series professional bass fishing tournaments scheduled for 2018. – oanow.com

Pack Health, Omega Realty moving to downtown Birmingham

Pack Health and Omega Realty Group will be new tenants of the former Terracon building in downtown Birmingham. The building at 110 12th St. North was recently purchased by a Birmingham investment group, according to corporate real estate firm J.H. Berry & Gilbert. The 45,000-square-foot building most recently served at the headquarters for Terracon, an environmental consultant. – AL.com

AT&T Aspire Accelerator looking for education tech ventures

AT&T is in search of game-changing solutions to real world education challenges, and we are calling on innovative education technology ventures from Alabama to apply for the 2018 AT&T Aspire Accelerator. Why Alabama? Because AT&T knows that the best and brightest ideas don’t always come from traditional tech centers, but from towns and cities in every state across the country. – News release

UA student expelled after racist rant on social media

The University of Alabama says social media videos of a student repeatedly using a racial slur have been reported to the school's student-conduct office. In the first video, the woman uses a racial slur for African-Americans. In a second video responding to criticism, she says she'll use the word "as much as I want," and then says it repeatedly. The university said the comments are "ignorant and disturbing and in no way reflect the values of The University of Alabama." – WVTM

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