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Top News Links: Tuesday, Sept. 30

B’ham inches closer to downtown Publix

A downtown Birmingham Publix is one step closer to reality.  Two downtown developers have acquired a property that will be a part of a $30 million development at 20th Street and Third Avenue South including a 30,000-square-foot Publix. Block 136, a limited liability company formed by Scott Bryant & Co. and RGS Properties, acquired 209 20th St. S. for $1 million. – AL.com

Asahi Kasei Plastics breaks ground

Asahi Kasei Plastics North America held a groundbreaking for its $30 million Athens plant Monday, including a ceremony and lunch at Athens Utilities. Yuji Kobayashi, president of Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp., and Kazuo Sunaga, consulate general of Japan in Atlanta, attended the celebration of the company’s second U.S. plastics plant. – Decatur Daily

UAW gains ground at Volkswagen

The UAW has gained two German allies in its bid to organize Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. German union IG Metall and the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council signed a letter of intent Sept. 9 with the UAW to “Organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee workers as a UAW-represented facility and to begin the process of formation of a works council there.” – Detroit Free Press

Diversity ‘not just a nice thing’

A McDonald’s executive says workplace diversity isn’t just an important concept, it’s a bottom-line issue in a changing business world. “It’s not just a nice thing to do,” said Pat Harris, the company’s global chief diversity officer. “Many people misinterpret that. It’s so much more than that. It helps us build our businesses.” – Montgomery Advertiser

First look at Huntsville’s new Belk

Employees huddled in small groups across the aisles early Monday morning at the new two-story, $20 million Belk store at Bridge Street Town Centre. The city of Huntsville's second Belk flagship store, which spans 170,000 square feet and will replace the aging Madison Square Mall site, is gearing up for a soft opening at 10 a.m. Saturday. – AL.com

Electric cars may just revolt you

For seven days, beginning on September 15th, the electric-vehicle industry sponsored an event called National Drive Electric Week. In Huntsville, people lined up to drive a fleet of Nissan Leafs. But is all the hype translating into satisfied electric-vehicle users? Not necessarily. – The New Yorker

Chicken Salad Chick opens in Birmingham

Chicken Salad Chick is opening its first Birmingham area restaurant today. The new restaurant is located in the Village at Lee Branch at 210 Doug Baker Blvd, Suite 200. – PRWeb

NAS production starts in Decatur

Today Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, unveiled enhancements to its transparent specialties production network and portfolio. Specifically, the company successfully started NAS® production in its Decatur site and will open a new NAS and Zylar® plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, which will begin production in early October. – BusinessWire

Selma mayor pitches tourism, development

Selma Mayor George Evans promoted Alabama's civil rights legacy as a tourism attraction and economic development project during the annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington on Friday. – Montgomery Advertiser

Alagasco purchase now complete

The Laclede Group Inc. has completed its purchase of 100 percent of the equity of Alabama Gas Corporation (Alagasco) from Energen Corporation, effective Aug. 31. The purchase price included the assumption of $250 million of Alagasco long-term debt and cash consideration of approximately $1.35 billion, subject to typical adjustments for working capital and short-term borrowing at closing. – Techsonian 

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