Hamilton County completes purchase of McDonald Farm for industrial park and more business news

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / McDonald Farm is seen on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 in Sale Creek, Tenn.

Hamilton County completes buy of Sale Creek farmland

Hamilton County has completed its $16 million purchase of the McDonald Farm in Sale Creek to help establish its newest industrial park.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the sale of the 2,100-acre farm was completed Tuesday, clearing the way for the county to begin site plans for a variety of uses on the farm that stretches into part of Rhea County.

"Our concept is to use the McDonald Farm site for mixed development and our hope is to eventually have a corporate headquarters that offers good wages locate at the farm," Coppinger said.

The mayor said he hopes to begin recreational efforts at the farm as early as this spring.

Despite opposition to the land purchase by the conservative think tank the Beacon Center of Tennessee, Coppinger said there has already been interest in development at the McDonald farm and such government industrial parks have been key to recruiting Volkswagen, Amazon and other industry to Hamilton County.

Alabama sun power grows with solar farms

Three months after the biggest solar generation farm in Alabama was completed at Muscle Shoals to power a Meta (Facebook) data center in Huntsville through TVA's Green Invest program, another solar farm gained financing this week to supply solar power for another public power group.

Lightsource BP announced that the company has closed financing for its planned 130 megawatt Black Bear Solar project near Montgomery, Alabama. The project has a power contract in place with the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), a wholesale power provider for 11 public power utilities in Alabama. According to Lightsource BP, the project will consist of 350,000 solar panels installed across 800 acres of land and is expected to achieve commercial operation in late 2022.

After ranking below average for years in its solar capacity, Alabama made substantial additions in 2021, bringing the state's total installed capacity to just under 580 megawatts.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry, projects that Alabama will install 1,350 MW of solar generation over the next five years to place Alabama No. 27 among the 50 states in total solar generation.

Stock market rebounds from 3 days of losses

Stocks closed solidly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, more than regaining the ground they had lost a day earlier. The S&P 500 rose 1.8%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6% and the Nasdaq rose 2.4%.

Small-company stocks rose even more than the rest of the market, a signal that investors were feeling a more optimistic about the economy. Technology stocks did especially well.

Prices for ultra-safe U.S. government bonds fell, sending yields higher. Energy prices also rose. Nike, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, jumped 6.1% after turning in strong quarterly results.

Intel tells unvaccinated they face unpaid leave

Intel has told workers that unvaccinated people who don't get an exemption for religious or medical reasons will be on unpaid leave beginning in April.

The California-based semiconductor company told employees last month they had a Jan. 4 deadline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or seek an exemption, citing a government mandate for federal contractors. The constitutionality of broad government mandates is up in the air.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Intel is for now leaving its policies in place. Intel will review employees' exemption requests until March 15.

Employees who don't receive an exemption will begin unpaid leave on April 4 for at least three months but "will not be terminated."

UK gives $1.3 billion in aid to businesses

Britain has announced $1.3 billion in grants and other aid to help the hospitality industry survive the onslaught of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The government on Tuesday bowed to days of pressure from pubs, restaurants and other businesses that have seen income plunge following public health warnings. Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-time grants of up to 6,000 pounds each.

An additional 100 million will be given to local governments to support businesses in their areas hit by the sudden spike in COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible new variant.

- Compiled by Dave Flessner