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Top News Links: Monday, March 30

How BMW embraced change and became rich

For decades, BMW was a small, purebred sports sedan brand from Bavaria, and was content to stay that way. Then came the transformation into a diverse maker of luxury vehicles with operations around the world -- a transition that began in America and can be pinned down to a specific point in time: It was the moment in 1999 when BMW became a merchant of SUVs. – Auto News

State unemployment falls to 5.8 percent

Alabama's unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in February, its lowest level in nearly seven years, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the state. The number remains slightly higher than the national average of 5.5 percent in February. – Montgomery Advertiser

Jefferson County jobless rate at 5.4 percent

Jefferson County's employment numbers continue to improve, as unemployment dropped to 5.4 percent for February. The current total is an improvement from January's 5.4 percent in Jefferson County, and a major boost from the year-over-year number of 7.8 percent unemployment in the same month last year, according to the most recent data from the Alabama Department of Labor. – BizJournals.com

Credit union league supports payday rules

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, the trade association for 271 credit unions in Alabama and Florida, supports efforts to curb abusive lending practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released proposed rules last week to end payday lending traps and restrict how payday lenders collect payments from consumers. – News release

A&M students shot over weekend improving

Alabama A&M University planned a candlelight vigil for three students who were among seven people shot at a spring break party in Florida, the school said Sunday, as all three students were reported to be improving. They and four other young adults were shot Saturday morning a little after midnight at a house party in Panama City Beach. – NBC.com

Homeowners get drywall judgment

Attorneys say Chinese drywall manufacturer Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. has paid a $3.2 million judgment to the owners of seven homes damaged by the product. A news release from attorneys representing homeowners said a damages trial has been set for April 28 on behalf of 4,000 others whose properties suffered similar damages from the same defective Taishan drywall. Among the 4,000 are homeowners in Alabama and five other states. – Clarion-Ledger

Lake Martin home sales hit peak

Lake Martin Area residential sales totaled 34 units in February, a significant improvement in sales growth of 126.7 percent from the same period last year. This figure establishes a new peak for the month of February. Year-to-date sales through February are up 51.4 percent from 2014. – ACRE

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