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Top News Links: Tuesday, Nov. 22

Shop Alabama initiative encourages local buying

Black Friday is only a few days away, but some local retailers are starting the discounts earlier. This year officials expect Alabamians to spend about $11 billion on the holidays. Many will do their shopping at major department stores, but you will see the biggest return on your investment if you shop locally. – DothanFirst

Drought hampering state’s timber industry

In addition to thousands of timberland acres blackened by wildfires, drought effects on Alabama forests are taking a toll on future production of the billion-dollar industry. "Wildfires destroyed valuable timber, and the drought has caused interruptions for landowners who intended to plant new trees this year," said the Alabama Farmers Federation's Rick Oates. – Southeast Farm Press

Auburn University 3-D printing center opens field

The field of 3-D printing is open wide for manufacturing, and Auburn University is stepping in. The school has established a Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing, with a $1.5 million grant to research ways for smaller manufacturers to get into the game. – AL.com

Instructor notes blue-collar job training can be a bargain

Tom Berryman knows how to put young people in some pretty-sweet blue-collar jobs. Graduates of the two-year auto-mechanics’ training courses he oversees at Lawson State Community College’s campus in Bessemer all get work at auto dealerships, most with starting salaries in the high-$40,000s. If they’re lucky enough to end up at a Toyota dealership, they make over $60,000. That’s in a state with a median household income of $44,765. – Bloomberg/AlabamaNewsCenter

AEgis partners with Modest Tree on teaching software

Modest Tree announced today that AEgis Technologies has become the exclusive Department of Defense distributor of the eLearning software suite, Modest3D. The software offers the ability to rapidly create a wide variety of 3D interactive training applications, including 3D classroom demonstrations, virtual maintenance trainers and advanced interactive game-based training. – News release

United Bank in Atmore awarded $65M tax credit allocation

United Bancorporation of Alabama, the holding company for United Bank, has been awarded a $65 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation by the Department of the Treasury. The federal program spurs private investment and economic growth in communities that may lack access to capital. – News release

GMC to design innovative plant for Riviera

Riviera Utilities has executed a contract with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to design a wastewater treatment plant expansion utilizing Nereda granular activated sludge technology. The new advanced wastewater treatment process will be designed for the Wolf Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility in Foley. – News release

Alabama court helps shut down fraudulent debt counselor

A central Florida businessman who made a name for himself as a debt counselor during the Great Recession has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing more than $100 million in liabilities. Timothy McCallan, of Melbourne, was hit with a judgment in February for $107 million in an Alabama bankruptcy for a large debt settlement law firm – Allegro Law – that was shut down by a judge six years ago as a massive fraud. – Orlando Sentinal

Opinion: SunTrust Park deal goes to land grabbing

The $700 million Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park deal resulted in Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee being voted out of office yet grows ever more controversial. Plans now call for a four-lane connector road to alleviate traffic around the new ballpark site. To make this express lane to Braves revenue a reality, Cobb County informed 31 homeowners that it has to bulldoze their homes. – MarketWatch

Consumers hanging on to cars just a bit longer

The average age of light vehicles in the U.S. has risen once again as consumers continue to hold onto vehicles. IHS Markit said today that the average age of light vehicles is now 11.6 years, up from 11.5 last year, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation on Jan. 1, 2016, the most recent analysis. – Automotive News

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