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Top News Links: Monday, Oct. 26

Mars-rated SLS clears design review

For the first time in almost 40 years, a NASA human-rated rocket has completed all steps needed to clear a critical design review. The agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) is the first vehicle designed to meet the challenges of the journey to Mars and the first exploration class rocket since the Saturn V. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built and, with the agency’s Orion spacecraft, will launch America into a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. – News release

Drummond to develop coal-bed methane

U.S. coal miner Drummond is preparing to develop coal-bed methane (CBM) for power generation in northern Colombia, as a years-long dispute with competitor Cerrejon over coal and methane gas resources at another site drags on. "The environmental license is very advanced. We expect (regulator) ANLA's director Fernando Iregui will give us the license at any moment," Drummond Colombia chief executive Jose Miguel Linares said this week. – Argus Media

Regions Financial acquires BlackArch Partners

Regions Financial Corporation on Friday announced the acquisition of BlackArch Partners, a private, middle-market mergers and acquisitions advisory firm headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. “BlackArch Partners has an attractive growth profile and a strong reputation for excellence serving the middle market,” said John Turner, head of the Regions Corporate Banking Group. – BusinessWire

Google chomping at bit over drone delivery

The prospect of an automated, instant delivery system for the planet is incredibly exciting. It makes no sense for a human being to climb into a 3,000+ pound gas-combustion vehicle and drive 10 miles to pick up a 2 pound package, as happens today. Drones could be 10 times cheaper and 10 times faster than any current alternative; they offer the best hope of instant, personalized deliveries in a resource-efficient, low cost way -- if regulators allow it. – LinkedIn

Lowe’s files suit in Calhoun County to dodge taxes

Calhoun County could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money should a national retail chain succeed in reducing its property taxes. Counties across the state are fighting lawsuits the home improvement retailer Lowe's filed to reduce its property taxes. If Lowe's wins, it could mean not just a tax reduction, but repayment of years' worth of property taxes to the company, officials say. It could also spur other retailers to do the same, they say. – Anniston Star

Frito-Lay closes warehouse, 17 jobs lost

Frito-Lay has closed a Birmingham warehouse where 17 people worked. Employees were notified of the closing in April, but it officially took effect Oct. 3. The warehouse was at 161 Oxmoor Court. – AL.com

Bessemer picked for Flex-N-Gate expansion

Bessemer beat out Mexico for an expansion of a $23.9 million automotive part manufacturing facility expansion that will add 107 jobs. Flex-N-Gate already has 180 employees at its Bessemer facility. With the expansion, it will start producing front end and rear bumpers for Nissan. – AL.com

CPG International closing Foley facility

CPG Internationais closing a facility where 41 people work in Foley, according to records filed with the Department of Commerce.  According to the city of Foley's office of Economic Development, AZEK Building Products -- a CPG subsidiary -- is one of the city's seven largest employers. The Azek brand makes low-maintanence materials for building exteriors and decks. – AL.com

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