As Atlanta grows, its trademark tree canopy suffers

At the back of a narrow dirt lot in Reynoldstown where a small bungalow once sat, three trees stood behind an orange plastic safety fence. The trees — two water oaks and a pecan — have shaded the neighborhood for between 45 and 70 years, said Greg Levine, the co-executive director of the nonprofit Trees Atlanta. An investor bought the property in 2020 and on a recent Thursday, an orange “X” spray painted across each of their trunks indicated the trees likely would not stand much longer. In popular neighborhoods like Reynoldstown, Levine said, investors can score big pay days with zoning that allows older homes to be replaced with new, larger ones. Often, that redevelopment comes at the expense of the city’s famed trees. Atlanta Journal Constitution


Draft plans released for controversial Okefenokee titanium mine

Draft mining plans for a controversial titanium mine that would operate on the doorstep of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge were released Thursday by state environmental regulators — a major development in a years-long fight over the project.

The plans were released by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD), which currently has sole permitting jurisdiction over the mine, after a dizzying saga that has seen oversight of the project juggled back and forth between state regulators and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The mine would extract titanium and zirconium less than three miles from the edge of the refuge on an ancient sand dune complex known as Trail Ridge, which forms the Okefenokee Swamp’s eastern boundary. The proposed mining site is off Route 94 near St. George, just minutes from the Georgia-Florida border. Atlanta Journal Constitution

For Port of Mobile, 2022 was another boom year in container shipping

The Port of Mobile has set a new record for annual container traffic, beating the benchmark it set in 2021 by more than 11%.

The 2022 data bears out Port Authority leadership’s regular reports that the era of the COVID-19 shutdown, with its supply-chain disruptions, was a time of growth and opportunity for Alabama’s deepwater port. Port Authority Director and CEO John C. Driscoll said a slate of ongoing developments set the stage for the growth trend to continue over the next few years, though the state of the global economy remains a concern.

Regions reports record 2022 earnings of $2.1 billion

Birmingham’s Regions Financial Corp. today reported record earnings for 2022, with total revenue up 12 percent from the previous year.

In its quarterly report, the company reported fourth quarter net income of $660 million and earnings per diluted share of $0.70.

For the full-year, the company reported net income of $2.1 billion and record pre-tax pre-provision income of $3.1 billion. Compared to 2021, total revenue increased to a record $7.2 billion on both a reported and adjusted basis, driven by growth in net interest income, the company announced.

Structurlam Suspends Operations in Conway, Ark., Lays Off 144

A Conway manufacturing plant is suspending its operations and laying off 144 workers after losing a major customer contract. Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation announced Wednesday it is temporarily suspending operations and reducing staff at its Conway plant. The company said 24 employees will be retained to maintain the 288,000-square-foot facility…


Structurlam did not initially name the contract that it lost, but later confirmed Walmart cancelled its lucrative contract with the company. In 2019, Structurlam announced a $90 million investment in the Conway facility largely to support the construction of the new Walmart corporate campus in Bentonville. KVOM

Staunton Crossing project receives $4.5M grant, plan could deliver 3K jobs in city

The City of Staunton received a $4,555,000 development grant from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for Staunton Crossing.

The 300-acre property is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 250 and Interstate 81 – just three miles from downtown Staunton. The property includes the Old Western State Hospital and the plan includes the potential of additional parcels along Frontier Drive. In 2021, a number of buildings on the property were torn down to prepare for the future.

According to a business plan developed in 2019 by the Timmons Group, the master plan has the potential to generate $4 million in annual tax revenue and more than 3,000 jobs for the local economy. Augusta Free Press

Major development proposed for Southeast Roanoke

ROANOKE, Va. – A new project that will turn the former American Viscose plant in Southeast Roanoke into a major development was announced during the Tuesday night City Council meeting.

The development has the potential to create thousands of jobs and change the character of the Star City.

City Council heard about the plan for the first time publically during the meeting. They approved a motion to take the initial steps required to keep the plan moving forward.

The new development, called “Riverdale,” will transform the American Viscose property off of 9th Street, while maintaining some of its industrial heritage features, officials said. 10NEWS

Youngkin announces $90 million in grants to develop industrial sites in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Youngkin Team Release) – Governor Glenn Youngkin Monday announced $90 million in Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBRSP) development grants for 21 sites across Virginia.

The governor’s team says the discretionary program helps characterize and develop sites to enhance Virginia’s infrastructure with more competitive project-ready sites, to attract new business and accelerate expansion in Virginia.

“The leading priority of the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program is to increase our project-ready site’s portfolio across the Commonwealth, and this unprecedented site development funding is an important step forward in strengthening Virginia’s infrastructure,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Prepared sites drive economic growth, and we have to move faster to attract new businesses. We are hitting the accelerator to build a best-in-class business environment so the Commonwealth can compete to win, and I have included the necessary additional funding for the VBRSP in my proposed budget.” WDBJ/Youngkin Team Release

Ford disputes reporting on Pittsylvania County pick for battery project

A spokeswoman for Ford Motor Company said Thursday that the company had not made a site selection decision on its plans for an electric vehicle battery plant in partnership with a Chinese company.

The statement from the company came in response to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report Thursday citing two sources saying the company had notified Virginia officials that it had selected the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill in Pittsylvania County for the plant. They sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

New developer to lead Florida Aquarium’s upcoming $40M major expansion

TAMPA, Fla. — A new developer is set to lead the Florida Aquarium’s upcoming $40 million major expansion called Sea Change.

This capital campaign will be the non-profit’s largest since its opening in 1995, the aquarium said in a news release.

“The Florida Aquarium is a community treasure and its impact goes far beyond our region’s borders,” Darryl Shaw, co-founder and former chief executive officer of development group BluePearl Veterinary Partners, said in a statement. “Having a vibrant, thriving cultural attraction like the Florida Aquarium enhances our quality of life and places us on an international stage. WTSP