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Top News Links: Friday, May 19

Prattville to get a $220M Hardie Building Products plant

James Hardie Building Products will invest up to $220 million to open an advanced fiber-cement building products manufacturing plant in Prattville, creating 205 jobs. The company is a leading high-technology manufacturer of numerous types of fiber-cement products with a range of applications having performance and design advantages, including external siding, trim and panels as well as interior floor and tile underlay, sold in markets around the world under brand names such as HardiePlank and HardieBacker. – Business Facilities

Some states, including Alabama, lag on recovery

Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico, and West Virginia are still short of pre-recession job levels by multiple measures. That contrasts with states including Colorado, North Dakota, Texas and Utah, where employment numbers have soared. Nationwide, job numbers surpassed pre-recession peaks in the middle of 2014, about the same time Mississippi was saddled with the nation's highest unemployment rate. – USN&WR

Ivey signs new law that could help cities land jobs

Gov. Kay Ivey barely had time to sit down at a signing ceremony before Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange stepped forward to hand her a pen. A few seconds later he was all smiles as Ivey signed the bill to revise and extend a state incentives program that helps cities land new jobs. The new law is an update to the Alabama Jobs Act that was passed in 2015. That act gave cities access to state money for site acquisition and infrastructure improvements, among other things, during the recruitment process as they tried to woo major projects. – Montgomery Advertiser

Florence will soon see Sunday liquor sales

Alcohol sales in several northwest Alabama cities are changing. Requested by five municipalities, the state Legislature changed when and where alcohol can be sold on Sunday. For as long as it has been around – beer, wine and liquor sales in stores have been off-limits on Sundays in Florence. – WHNT

Politicians all talk, no action on prisons

No other issue exposes Alabama politicians’ cheap political rhetoric than Montgomery’s lack of action when it comes to law enforcement and criminal justice. On the campaign stump, most Alabama politicians seem to be in a race to see who can talk toughest about making sure wrongdoers are locked up for a long, long time. The key word here is “talk,” of course. – Anniston Star

But will new R&D facility count chickens before they hatch?

Wayne Farms has started construction on a research and development facility that will bring 20 jobs to its poultry processing plant in Decatur. According to the Decatur Daily and a company spokesman, the town will have these jobs in 2018 after the 15,000-square-foot, $5 million facility is finished. – Meat+Poultry

Four automakers agree to $553M Takata settlement

Four automakers agreed to a $553 million settlement to address class-action economic loss claims covering owners of nearly 16 million recalled vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed on Thursday. Toyota Motor Corp.'s share of the settlement costs is $278.5 million, followed by BMW AG at $131 million, Mazda at $76 million and Subaru Corp. at $68 million. – Automotive News

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