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Top News Links: Monday, March 18

State unemployment drops below 7 percent

For the first time in four years, Alabama's unemployment rate has dipped below 7 percent; Department of Labor officials calculated the January rate at 6.9 percent. — al.com

AG attacks Creek gaming; pols kowtow for contributions

While Attorney General Luther Strange is trying to curtail gaming at Creek Indian casinos, other politicians are hitting up the tribal leaders for donations to political events. — al.com

Jefferson County workout plan in works

Jefferson County officials are developing a roadmap out of bankruptcy, the county commission president says, with a plan that calls for slicing more than $1 billion off the county's outstanding $4.23 billion debt. — Reuters

SEC hopes to hurry court case against key players in lead-up to Jefferson sewer woes

The Securities and Exchange Commission is asking to move forward in its case against two former J.P. Morgan Securities officials accused of paying off county officials to get bond business, which later led to county bankruptcy. — al.com 

Legislature approves tax increment financing

State legislators approved a bill that allows cities and counties to borrow money to provide incentives for new businesses, then pay back the loans from future increases in property tax revenue. — Huntsville Times

Hyundai sales may face production limit

Hyundai, one of the leaders in U.S. sales growth, says further growth may be limited by its production capacity; Korean plants are at limits but the company's Montgomery plant has added a third shift to increase capacity. — Bloomberg

BP seeks to limit spill claims, cites "absurd" examples

Seeking to trim its losses from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP has challenged the business loss claims provisions, citing among examples a Northern Alabama road and bridge builder — 200 miles from the Gulf — that sought recompense, even though 2010 was its best year ever. — Insurance Journal

Downtown development brings jobs to Montgomery

Montgomery city officials are touting their success in bringing 100 new jobs to the downtown, 40 of them expected at a pedestrian-friendly Waffle House. — WNCF-TV

Airbus announces second job posting

As European aircraft company Airbus prepares for its first U.S. assembly line in Mobile, the company has announced a search for its second employee, a U.S. customs manager for the plant. — Airbus PR

Car title loans face possible regulations

Alabama legislators are considering a pair of bills to put new restrictions on companies offering car title loans — short term loans with high interest rates. — Anniston Star

Birmingham dome talk resurfaces

Birmingham Mayor Willima Bell said last week that he's looking for ideas for a domed stadium, saying it could bring more sports to the city; other city officials standoffish on the plan. — Birmingham News

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