Mercedes battery plant adds 600 Alabama jobs

Mercedes-Benz has opened a new electric vehicle battery factory near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that will create up to 600 new jobs.

The German automaker said Tuesday that the plant in Bibb County opened a few months before Mercedes plans to start making two all-electric SUVs at a large assembly plant in nearby Tuscaloosa.

The new battery plant will make cells for the EQS and EQE SUVs, which will be built for sale in the U.S. and for exports, the company said in a statement. Mercedes said it spent about $1 billion on the battery plant and to upgrade the assembly line in Tuscaloosa to make electric vehicles. The Alabama battery plant will make lithium-ion batteries with an advanced chemistry that contains nickel, cobalt and manganese, Mercedes said.

It is one of six battery factories that the company plans, including two in Germany, one each in China and Thailand and one in Poland. Mercedes plans to build EVs at seven plants on three continents.

Mercedes already employs about 4,500 people at the Tuscaloosa assembly plant, which made about 260,000 SUVs last year. The plant can build internal combustion engine vehicles on the same line as electric vehicles, Mercedes said.

 

Walmart, Capital One add Atlanta tech offices

Two more large U.S. companies, Walmart Inc. and Capital One, are locating tech hubs in Atlanta.

Walmart’s Global Tech division will bring 140 jobs in fields such as data science and software engineering. It has not yet found office space.

“Atlanta is a major location for both Walmart and the cybersecurity industry, with growing strengths in software engineering, AI, machine learning and data science,” the giant retailer announced Tuesday.

The announcement also noted Walmart is working with historically Black colleges and universities to increase participation of underrepresented groups, such as women and people of color. Walmart has tuition-help programs for employees with Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges, and the city is one of the nation’s faster-growing tech hubs for minorities.

Atlanta will be Walmart’s eighth U.S. tech hub. Its jobs are posted on the Walmart website. The company says the workers will begin working virtually and transition to a hybrid work model as it looks for a space. It did not give a time frame.

Capital One said it will be hiring hundreds for engineer positions focused on cloud, data, machine learning and cybersecurity, as well as product managers.

 

Wholesale prices jump 10% during February

Wholesale inflation in the United States shot up 10% last month from a year earlier — another sign that inflationary pressures remain intense at all levels of the economy.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that its producer price index — which tracks inflation before it hits consumers — rose 0.8% from January. The increases were in line with economists’ forecasts.

Wholesale energy prices were up 33.8% over the past year and food prices 13.7%.

The report did not include price changes after Feb. 15, missing a spike in energy prices when Russia invaded Ukraine nine days later.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, wholesale inflation rose 0.2% from January and 8.4% from February 2021.

Last week, the government reported that surging gas, food and housing costs pushed consumer prices up 7.9% in February from a year earlier — the sharpest spike since 1982.

 

Puerto Rico government exits bankruptcy after seven years

Puerto Rico’s government formally exited bankruptcy Tuesday, completing the largest public debt restructuring in U.S. history after announcing nearly seven years ago that it was unable to pay its more than $70 billion debt.

The exit means that the U.S. Caribbean territory’s government will resume billion-dollar payments to bondholders for the first time in several years, settle some $1 billion worth of claims filed by residents and local businesses and issue more than $10 billion worth of bonds. The government also will restore up to $1.3 billion taken from a public pension system.

“This is a significant success,” said Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances and its debt restructuring process. “Remaining in bankruptcy has been a drag on the economy in multiple ways.”

The bankruptcy led to widely criticized austerity measures on an island that paid some $1 billion in fees to consultants and lawyers and in other expenses during the process.

The exit was a priority for the board and Jaresko, who previously announced she is retiring April 1. A replacement has not been named yet. The board is expected to remain in place until Puerto Rico has four consecutive balanced budgets, a feat that has yet to be achieved.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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