HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Agriculture:
crop production
crop irrigation
livestock production
dairy production
research & development

Energy
oil & gas production
wind energy
biofuels production
food processing
manufacturing

Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
air service
highways
internet service

Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

Entrepreneurship:
small business development
technology application
innovation

Technology Boom in Colorado

Mar 31, 2015
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media/KUNC

Colorado is leading the nation with innovation, in recent years Boulder and Denver have become as home to tech startup companies in an unlikely industry. Agriculture is where the money’s at in Colorado these days; growers are patenting new technology in irrigation, food science and plant genetics according to a report from NPR correspondent Luke Runyoon.

New data shows Oklahoma lost about 500 mining jobs last year reports KGOU. About 97 percent of these jobs are related to oil and gas drilling. Lyn Gray is the chief economist for the Oklahoma Employment Commission. She says this year could be worse.

When it comes to the decline in oil prices, over 40 percent of Texans say it will impact businesses positively in their region. However, more than 50 percent say the fall is bad for the state's economy.

New Kansas ethanol plant turning crop residue into fuel

Mar 10, 2015
Bryan Thompson

Five months after its grand opening, a massive new-generation ethanol plant in the southwest corner of Kansas is undergoing final adjustments as it prepares to begin full-scale production. The plant, built by a Spanish company with financing from the U.S. Department of Energy, is designed to produce clean-burning fuel — not from corn, but from the bits and pieces of crops left in farmers’ fields after harvest.

Imagine eHarmony for agricultural employers and workers. That’s how western Kansas farmer Mark Pettijohn describes Nebraska-based Hansen-Agri-placement.

Despite long-held suspicions that Oklahoma’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stay silent amid pressure from oil company executives. State Seismologist Austin Holland admits “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but says it never affected his scientific findings.

During annual inventory, it was discovered that 1.121 steer calves were missing from the Braums 24,000 acre facility in the Texas Panhandle.

There is an upside to lower oil prices. StateImpact Texas takes a look at consumer trends. Lower prices at the pump might mean more tourists for gems like Palo Duro Canyon.

USDA

Agriculture drinks up 80 percent of the freshwater in America every year.  Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports just how much that is, for what crops, and at what cost reports the National Geographic.

The latest survey shows corn is still king, using 14 percent more irrigation than the last report. 

wikipedia.org

The most common jobs are changing.  Across the high plains, truck drivers dominate. 

Why?  NPR reports there are a few reasons:

The Holdouts

Feb 16, 2015

Three families who took a pass on the fracking boom-- and what it cost them.

In Oklahoma and Texas, under state law, some workers could lose their jobs if they don’t repay their college loans.

Professionals in at least 22 states can lose the licensure required to do their jobs if they fall into default on their student loans, according to labor and worker’s rights advocacy group Jobs With Justice.

To limit sales, states propose legalizing raw milk

Feb 12, 2015
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

The federal government banned raw milk sales across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.

hdmlawoffice.com

What are the issues that families need to discuss when they begin to talk about estate planning?  What process do they use?  Why do they need to do it? How do they get started? 

These are just a few of the topics which will be covered in two regional “Preserving the Family with Estate Planning” workshops offered by K-State Research and Extension in northwest Kansas in February.

Sales at farmers markets are slowing dramatically, but that's not necessarily bad news for farmers.

kscorn.com/

Hundreds of corn farmers across the state of Kansas attended Corn School this year reports Seedbuzz.  If you wonder what producers learn at corn school, here are some lessons they took away:

  • You have to soil test.  David Mengel is a soil fertility specialist at KSU.  He shared this quote from North Dakota counterparts, "Producers would not dare go to the field without checking the oil in their tractor engine. One should approach soil testing in the same manner."
     
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

When Jon Slutsky’s dairy farm in Wellington, Colo. is fully staffed, it’s a moment to celebrate. A full roster of employees at Slutsky’s La Luna Dairy is rare these days.

“We’re doing really well with our employee base,” Slutsky said. “A year ago, we couldn’t say that. We were short.”

With the farm’s 1,500 cows waiting to be milked, Slutsky and his wife Susan Moore felt panicked, worried they didn’t have enough hands on deck to milk about 200 cows per hour.

newschannel10.com

Hundreds of people in Amarillo are now receiving health care who normally would not be able to afford it reports Madison Alewel for NewsChannel 10.

Heal the City is a free clinic in the San Jacinto neighborhood.  It’s open every Monday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The clinic is the brainchild of Dr. Alan Keister. After making several medical missions to Central America, Keister knew there was a mission to complete right here in Amarillo.

A refresher course on Zilmax.

The virus that devastated hog farms last year could be slowing down, and that could mean lower prices at the grocery store.

agrilife.org

Some of the deadliest jobs in the nation are in rural places.  The Washington Post reports lumberjacks, fisherman, and pilots run the greatest risk at work.  In general, people who work with heavy machinery like combines, oil rigs, or tractors are a good deal of danger.

Farming, ranching, truck driving is about twice as hazardous as being a police officer. 

Transportation accidents account for 40 percent of all deaths on the job.

Tom Roeder / gazette.com

The Pueblo Chemical Depot is working to destroy America’s largest stockpile of Cold War-era mustard gas shells reports the Gazette.

The depot plans to blast its first shell with its explosive destruction system in March.  There are almost 800,000 rounds stored at the 23,000-acre depot.

There are plans to expand operations next year.  A separate plant costing $725 million should be at full bore by that time.  It will render more than 55 chemical shells harmless every hour, 24 hours a day.

The Southwest Information Office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A recent study shows Oklahoma women are among the lowest full-time wage earners in the country reports KGOU

Oklahoma tied with Louisiana for the bottom spot.  Women in those states make an average of $591 per week.  That’s 78 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts.

Looking at the listening region:

Yields are expected to be as good as last year, but commodity crop prices will make it a hard season to survive.

eustis.org

Colorado had the biggest proportional unemployment drop in the nation reports the Denver Post.  The rate lowered from 6.2 percent to 4 percent in 2014.

Colorado added 62,300 jobs.  That’s the nation’s best job gain.

Alexandra Hall is the labor department’s chief economist.  She says the state’s high diversified economy will help the state weather low oil prices—at least for a while.

newsok.com/

Oklahoma ranchers received the most federal drought relief in the country according to the Oklahoman

Here are the totals from 2011-Dec. 1, 2014:

  1. Oklahoma $883 million
  2. Texas $592.36 million
  3. Nebraska $512.89 million
  4. Kansas $461.26 million
  5. Missouri $303.58 million

There's a season cycle for row crop's carbon dioxide, and recent research shows the Corn Belt might be contributing more than once thought.

Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says the state's unemployment rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point in December reports KGOU.  The rate went from 4.4 percent in November to 4.2 percent.

State officials recently said that five of the state's nine seasonally adjusted business sectors added jobs in December. 

forbes.com

When the price of oil goes down too much, oil producers can't afford the expense of drilling. Rigs are parked. Workers are laid off. That impacts the entire listening region.

Business Insider reports Helmerich & Payne recently announced it would idle 50 more drilling rigs in February, after having already idled 11 rigs.  Each rig accounts for about 100 jobs. This will cut its shale-drilling activities by 20 percent.

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