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Top News Links: Wednesday, July 1

SpaceX failure Sunday underlines aggressive agenda

Before its unmanned rocket disintegrated Sunday, SpaceX had become an industry rising star. The brainchild of billionaire Elon Musk was not just blasting spacecraft into orbit, but was making it look easy. But at the company's Hawthorne headquarters, employees were already struggling to keep up with its aggressive schedule of almost 50 upcoming launches. And with the spectacular failure of Sunday's cargo mission to the International Space Station, the firm's efforts to fulfill those launch orders, now worth $7 billion, are coming to an abrupt halt. – Los Angeles Times

Renasant Corp. completes merger with Heritage Financial

Renasant Corporation today announced that it had completed its merger with Heritage Financial Group, Inc., a bank holding company headquartered in Albany, Georgia, and the parent of HeritageBank of the South, a Georgia savings bank. The combined Company has approximately $7.5 billion in total assets with 171 banking, mortgage, wealth management, investment and insurance offices throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. – PR Newswire/Wall Street Journal

Birmingham’s oldest school building wins grant

Developers seeking to restore and redevelop Birmingham's oldest school building have been awarded a $3.7 million federal loan to undertake the project. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, Tuesday announced the award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Integral Group to redevelop the 127-year-old Powell School building downtown. – AL.com

Alabama shows growth in small business hiring, revenue

Intuit Inc. has issued its Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes for June. Small business hiring increased in nearly all the states tracked by Intuit QuickBooks, with the largest gains in Idaho, Virginia, South Carolina, Oregon, Montana and Alabama. Five states posted declines, with the largest drops in Michigan, Utah and Massachusetts. – MarketWatch

Update from the coal war battlefield

Aside from market forces, much of the blame for the recent downturn in the Alabama coal industry has been focused primarily on one entity – the Environmental Protection Agency. Even last week, the government agency modified a previous decree to Alabama Power Co., leading the utility to announce it would permanently close three coal-fired facilities and swap four others to natural gas. – BizJournals.

Huntsville startup has better smart water bottle

euHydrate LLC is a Huntsville-based company set up by University of Alabama in Huntsville Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Emil Jovanov. This company was developed to support a smart water bottle invention that has now advanced to the final round in the Alabama Launchpad Start-Up Competition. The smart water bottle has already passed the market assessment phase. – WHNT

AL.com review reveals highest paid nonprofit CEOs

They don't pay taxes, but doesn't mean nonprofits don't compensate their staff - sometimes quite highly. The median salary for the CEO of a non-profit was $109,508 in 2012, according to a 2014 study from Charity Navigator. Larger organizations were correlated with higher executive compensation.

GulfQuest hires visitor services director

With less than three months until the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico opens its doors, downtown Mobile's newest attraction has hired Candice Frazier to prepare for the anticipated influx of visitors. Frazier, a longtime patron services professional in the Mobile area arts community, will serve as the museum's visitor services director. – AL.com

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