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Top News Links: Monday, March 27

Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain up for sale

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday? Not quite. Ruby Tuesday is up for sale. The Tennessee-based company said a sale or merger are among the "strategic alternatives" designed to "maximize shareholder value and position the business for long-term success." The announcement came just as Ruby Tuesday reported yearly sales declines of 4 percent, with a 17 percent drop in the last quarter alone. – AL.com

State’s unemployment rate drops slightly

Alabama's unemployment rate is down slightly as more workers find jobs. The state Department of Labor says Alabama's jobless rate for February was 6.2 percent. That's two-tenths of a percent lower than January's rate. The February jobless rate represents nearly 2.1 million people working in the state, which was a gain of more than 13,000 positions from the month before. – AL.com

ADECA concludes Trump budget would close seven programs

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard, Jr. on Friday released the impact of the America First budget on the programs that the agency administers. At this point, there are seven programs managed by ADECA that would be eliminated if the federal budget is passed. – ElmoreAutaugaNews.com

Internet sales blamed for planned 150 Game Stop closings

Increasing competition and digital sales may be to blame for GameStop's plan to shutter at least 150 of its 7,500 stores worldwide. The Texas-based retailer announced Thursday it will close 2-3 percent of its store footprint in 2017, while opening about 100 new locations globally. – AL.com

Shoe chain prepares for bankruptcy, 500 closings possible

Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people. – Bloomberg

Miami firm pays $36M for four hotels in south Alabama

Miami-based Sefira Capital paid $36 million for a portfolio of four hotels in Alabama, the firm’s first investment outside Florida. Sefira paid about $80,000 per room for the Hilton-branded hotels, which have a total of 440 rooms. The firm acquired an 80-room Hampton Inn in Mobile, Alabama, and three hotels in nearby Daphne, Alabama: a 104-room Homewood Suites, a 124-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 132-room Hampton Inn. – TheRealDeal

Deadline approaching for drought assistance loans

Central Alabama residents hurt by last year's drought are running out of time to apply for federal small-business assistance. The Small Business Administration says April 25 is the deadline for residents of seven counties to apply for disaster loans linked to the drought. Assistance is available for Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Saint Clair, Shelby and Talladega counties. – AP/Miami Herald

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