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Top News Links: Wednesday, Sept. 20

Shareholders approve SmartFinancial, Capstone merger

Tennessee-based SmartFinancial Inc. and Capstone Bancshares Inc. of Tuscaloosa say their respective shareholders have approved the definitive merger for SmartFinancial to acquire Capstone. Upon the completion of the transaction, the combined company is expected to have assets in excess of $1.5 billion with a presence in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. – Globe NewsWire

Puerto Drummond busiest coal export terminal in Colombia

Colombia exported 7.7 million metric tons of coal in August, little changed year on year but up from July, data from Colombian shipping agent Deep Blue shows. Turkey remained the biggest importer from Colombia, rising both month on month and year on year. Alabama-based producer Drummond's Puerto Drummond terminal remained the busiest port for the third consecutive month, reaching a five-month high, keeping its share of exports steady at 39 percent. – Platts

New safety concept to save lives: airbags on industrial robots

Two years ago, a robot crushed a 22-year-old man to death at a Volkswagen AG factory in Germany after the maintenance worker became trapped in an area usually off-bound to humans. While this type of tragedy is still relatively rare, efforts to improve safety are intensifying as factories around the world become increasingly automated. Entrepreneurs Roman Weitschat and Hannes Hoeppner, working at the German Aerospace Center outside of Munich, say they have designed a way to better safeguard interactions between humans and robots. – Insurance Journal

UAB, other schools to share $20M grant on plasma research

A five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation will help universities across Alabama, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, collaborate to better understand interactions of a key matter that could translate into the development of new technologies in areas ranging from food safety and aerospace to medicine. Plasmas make up more than 90 percent of the observable universe and underpin several high-tech manufacturing industries. – NewsWise

Dollar Tree closing everywhere, according to Facebook fake news

Dollar Tree Bargain shoppers everywhere likely did a double take when they saw this headline pop up on social media: "Dollar Tree Closing All Stores by October 2017." The "news" has been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media today but it's nothing more than fake news. – AL.com

Old stove factory to be entertainment hub in Huntsville

Another large and historic building on Huntsville's west side is being renovated into a hub for dining, entertainment and work, developers said today. This time, it's the Martin Stove building at 3414 Governors Drive, and the project is called Stovehouse. The complex will include the city's first permanent "urban food garden," wine and coffee bars and "chef-driven restaurant concepts," according to Stove House Properties. The company is partnering with Crunkleton Real Estate Group in the redevelopment. – AL.com

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