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Top News Links: Tuesday, July 7

Intermark lands Alabama Tourism’s $6M contract

Birmingham-based Intermark Group on Monday was announced as the new agency of record for the Alabama Tourism Department’s $6 million annual advertising contract by director Lee Sentell. The agency will succeed Luckie & Co. on the account, according to a release from the Alabama Tourism Department. – BizJournals.com

Builders note new state law designed to fund training

Though the construction industry’s rebound is in full effect with spending at a nearly 7-year high and jobs at a six-year high, contractors across the country are still struggling to find enough skilled workers. The latest survey on the U.S. industry’s shortage from the Associated General Contractors of America found that 83 percent of construction firms can’t find enough skilled workers. In Alabama, the state Legislature has passed the Construction Industry Craft Training Act, which will fund construction education statewide through a new building permit fee. – EquipmentWorld.com

Clearing unexploded bombs from runways gets high tech

Imagine an MRAP with a robotic arm and a 3-kilowatt laser, which the user aims and fires using a PlayStation 4-like controller. It may sound like the fever dream of a weapons designer, or the result of a video game cheat code, but the RADBO vehicle — short for Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordnance — is very real, developed by the Air Force to clear unexploded bombs from runways, and modified and tested with help from Army officials at Alabama's Redstone Arsenal. – Army Times

Walter Energy lenders want to slash expenses

Walter Energy Inc.’s most senior lenders are pushing the unprofitable coal miner to slash worker pay, reduce pension expenses and idle plants as part of a bankruptcy plan that they will present the company this week, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. The creditors, including Apollo Global Management LLC, Blackstone Group LP’s GSO Capital Partners, Fidelity Investments and KKR & Co., are seeking the cuts in exchange for support of a restructuring plan in bankruptcy court that would grant mining unions an equity stake in the company. – Bloomberg

Southeast manufacturing shows new life

Southeast manufacturing activity improved in June after three consecutive months of decline, according to the Southeast’s Purchasing Managers Index report released Monday by Kennesaw State University’s Econometric Center in the Michael J. Coles College of Business. Six states — Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee — are included in the monthly regional report. – MSBusiness.com

Dothan snack nut provider plans $15.1M upgrade

A Dothan business plans to make a $15.1 million upgrade to its facility and take advantage of tax incentives recently approved by the Alabama Legislature if the Dothan City Commission gives its expected approval today. Nutcracker Brands (known locally as ConAgra Dothan), a snack nut provider located on Horace Shepherd Road, qualifies for incentives under the Alabama Reinvestment and Abatement Act voted into law during the most recent legislative session. – Dothan Eagle

Hospitality industry wages rising on Gulf Coast

In a game of numbers, south Baldwin County is experiencing a boom in retail, hotel, entertainment and condo industries that is resulting in a demand for more jobs. The University of South Alabama's Mitchell College of Business recently examined the trend and learned that labor demand is having a sharp impact on wages. – AL.com

AHA names new board members

The Alabama Hospital Association has named its new board members and officers following elections. Glenn Sisk, CEO of Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga, was named board chairman at the annual meeting. David Spillers, CEO of Huntsville Hospital Health System, was named chair-elect. Dr. Will Ferniany, CEO of UAB Health System, was appointed secretary/treasurer. – BizJounals.com

Forbes sorts out BP health after settlement

BP Plc. recently agreed to pay more than $18.7 billion, spread over a period of 18 years, to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident. According to our estimates, BP’s net present liability arising from the settlement is around $7.3 billion, strikingly close to our previous estimate of just over $7.2 billion. Therefore, we maintain our current price estimate for BP at $45 per share, which values the company at around 17.7x our 2015 full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share estimate of $2.54. – Forbes

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