HPPR Economy and Enterprise

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research & development

Energy
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wind energy
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food processing
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Transportation & telecommunications
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Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
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tax collections

Entrepreneurship:
small business development
technology application
innovation

Every year on the farm has its challenges. There are weeds, insects and random hailstorms. Unpredictable global markets can make or break a profitable crop. Recent years, though, have been especially troubling for the Hammond farm in York County in eastern Nebraska.

More than 150 Kansas business owners will attend the Kansas Chamber's 2017 Congressional Summit this Friday in Wichita.

The summit will provide area business leaders with more information about policy and regulatory issues at the federal level.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:25 p.m. Sept. 18.

The Leavenworth County Commission on Monday morning backed off its support for a controversial chicken processing plant, throwing the future of the massive project into doubt.

The commission voted 2-1 to formally rescind a resolution that would have paved the way for $500 million in bonds to be issued for construction of the Tyson Foods plant near the Leavenworth County town of more than 5,000.

Editors note: This story was updated at 6 p.m. Sept. 18.

The Leavenworth County Commission on Monday morning backed off its support for a controversial chicken processing plant, throwing the future of the massive project into doubt.

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

$750,000 for payroll. $500,000 for a bond payment. $1.25 million total. One August day in 2013, the hospital’s CEO Kerry Noble had to face facts: The money just wasn’t there. It took an emergency bailout from a local bank to keep their doors open. For now.

Bureau of Land Management

The hydraulic fracturing process of extracting oil and natural gas—better known as “fracking”—requires that millions of pounds of sand be pumped down each shale well.

For years, Texas fracking operations have used Northern White Sand, mined in Wisconsin, for their wells.

But now, as Forbes reports, cheaper oil prices have producers looking for ways to cut costs, and many Texas fracking wells are looking for sand a bit closer to home.

CREATIVE COMMONS 3 - CC BY-SA 3.0

In a Sept. 7 blog, the Center for Rural Affairs, a rural advocacy group based in Nebraska, makes the case that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – recipients stimulate the economies of small towns.

Local Farmers Cash In On Corn Tortillas

Sep 12, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Many in the High Plains region regularly enjoy the tortilla chips – an item more local than what might think - that, along with a bowl of salsa, typically precede Mexican meals.

As The High Plains Journal reports, Leon and Nancy Winfrey of Plains, Kansas own Southwest Tortillas – made with food grade white corn grown on their farm. The family sells fresh corn tortillas to restaurants in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Imagine going to the grocery store for dinner, not to pick up a rotisserie chicken to take home, but to actually eat at the store. As online grocery shopping grows, many supermarkets are adding sit-down restaurants – and the trend is changing how food retail and food service work together.

Creative Commons

Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate human lives; the storm likely killed thousands of head of livestock as well.

As Texas Standard reports, the full effect of the hurricane on the cattle industry in Texas won’t be known for some time.

CCO Creative Commons

Even though oil and gas drillers have suffered through about three years of low oil prices, some of Colorado’s largest energy companies still seem optimistic.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Anadarko Petroleum pumped 33 million barrels of oil in the state last year, making them the state’s largest driller. 

SparkFun Electronics / Flickr Creative Commons

19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, including much of the High Plains region.

In this modern age, hundreds of small towns across America are essentially cut off from progress. Over the past few years, major American telecommunications companies have shown little interest in expanding broadband into rural America, saying such expansion isn’t cost effective.

After years of declining income on America’s farms and ranches, the agricultural sector might have finally hit the floor.  

The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture expect farmers to bring in more money this year than initially projected. Crop and livestock producers could net $63.4 billion in 2017. That would be an increase of nearly $1 billion from 2016, and would be the first time farmers see a rise in net farm income year-to-year since 2013.

Tyson Foods Inc. and Kansas officials unveiled plans Tuesday for a $300 million chicken facility outside Tonganoxie, a town about 15 miles northeast of Lawrence. The project will include a hatchery, feed mill and plant capable of processing more than 1 million birds per week.

Doug Ramsey, Tyson’s group president for poultry, said the complex will employ about 1,600 people and will produce trays of chicken sold at grocery stores.

 

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

The future of coal as a power source in Colorado is waning quickly, reports The Denver Post.

Over the past decade, Xcel Energy Colorado has shuttered a number of coal plants, and the utility behemoth is now arguing for shutting down two coal-burning facilities in Pueblo 10 years ahead of schedule.

Catmoz / Creative Commons

A professor of Energy Management at Rice University in Houston is warning that Hurricane Harvey may have a bigger effect on the nation’s oil supply that previously thought.

In an editorial in the D.C. political newspaper The Hill, Bill Arnold writes that Harvey is only the latest in a series of factors that have put pressure on the production, refining and distribution of crude in the U.S.

Wallethub

When it comes to gender equality, the United States doesn’t even rank among the top 40 countries of the world. In fact, in the recent rankings, the U.S. has fallen from number 28 to number 45. Within the U.S., some states are doing better than others to remedy the problem.

The personal finance website Wallethub has published a list of the best and worst states for gender equality. And the news isn’t good for the High Plains.

Westar Energy on Tuesday celebrated the completion of its new training site in Wichita where high school and technical school students can explore careers in the electrical industry.

Pratt Community College students showed off their climbing skills, going up and down practice electrical poles with special boots equipped with steel shanks.

The online retail giant Amazon announced a deal in June that showed its latest ambition: to completely change how America gets its food.

The latest step toward that goal is a proposed merger with Whole Foods Market, worth nearly $14 billion. The deal recently passed a key hurdle after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided the sale  would not hamper competition or provide an unfair advantage.

Microbreweries Continue To Pop Up In Kansas

Aug 23, 2017
QUINN DOMBROWSKI / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

There are several options for brewery enthusiasts in The Sunflower State, where about 30 breweries have popped up in just the past decade.

As Kansas Agland reports, Beaver – the smallest town in Kansas – has become a destination for pub crawlers since Mo’s Place Grill and Brewpub began serving their brew in 2004. The brewery now belongs to Austin Bell and Dale Kaiser who reopened it as Beaver Brewery at Mo’s Place last February. 

Wheat Streak Mosaic Ongoing Concern For Wheat Farmers

Aug 22, 2017
K-State Research and Extension

Of all the challenges to this year’s wheat crop, the wheat streak mosaic virus is the one most concerning to farmers.

As The High Plains Journal reports, extension specialists from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are spreading the message that controlling wheat streak mosaic depends on controlling the “green bridge” that hosts the wheat streak curl mites.

Foundry / Creative Commons

A California-based energy conglomerate made a surprising dark horse maneuver this week to purchase a major Texas energy company.

As The Texas Tribune reports, billionaire Warren Buffett was outbid at the last-minute in his attempt to purchase Oncor. The energy giant controls a large portion of the Texas grid, with its reach stretching across large swaths of North and West Texas.

iamharsha_ / Creative Commons

Western Oklahoma contains some of the highest poverty regions in the state, according to a recent study by Oklahoma Watch.

In parts of Texas County in the Oklahoma Panhandle, one in five people lives in poverty.

The situation is more dire in one area of Custer County east of Arapahoe, which has a staggering 30 percent poverty rate. Similarly, the region near Frederick, Oklahoma, in Tillman County, has a 28 percent poverty rate.

Update 8/25/17: The Amazon-Whole Foods merger passed a key hurdle after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided the grocery deal would not hamper competition or provide an unfair advantage.

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In June, the online retail giant Amazon announced a deal that showed its latest ambition: to completely change how America gets its food.

The latest step toward that goal is a proposed merger with Whole Foods Market, worth nearly $14 billion. For years Amazon has been making moves and launching programs to make food a bigger part of its business.

Hundreds of independent oil and gas explorers and producers are in Wichita this week for their annual convention.

This year marks the 80th annual meeting of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. The group, which formed in 1937, says independent producers are responsible for 93 percent of oil and 63 percent of natural gas produced in Kansas.

Wallethub

Among economically developed countries, the United States has the seventh highest rate of child poverty. Twenty-nine percent of the children in America live below the poverty line.

The personal-finance website Wallethub recently set out to find which states have the most child poverty. The site studied 21 key indicators to compile the rankings.

The federal commission in charge of enforcing workplace anti-discrimination laws found a Colorado meatpacking plant violated the rights of its Muslim workers during a dispute over prayer breaks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause that Cargill Meat Solutions and labor union Teamsters Local No. 455 violated the rights of Somali workers when it fired nearly 150 of them for failing to show up to work after a walk-out at its Fort Morgan, Colo. beef plant in late 2015.

Mike Mozart / Flickr Creative Commons

A new Texas law will allow shop clerks to decline a purchase if the shopper doesn’t show a valid ID when paying with a credit or debit card.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the idea behind the law is to reduce credit card fraud.

However, some merchants have contracts with credit card companies that disallow them from rejecting a sale based on improper identification. In those cases, the contract will supersede the law.

Oscar Rivera

Grain elevators have long served the High Plains farming industry and now, even abandoned elevators are finding new farm life.

According to the website, ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com, Vertical Innovations is taking old, city-owned abandoned grain elevators and transforming them into vertical farms.

It has been a rough few months for the world’s largest meat company.

Known for its rapid expansion across the globe, Brazil-based meatpacking giant JBS has been embroiled in scandal for much of 2017. The company is so large it is difficult to avoid for those who eat meat. As of 2014, JBS’s U.S. subsidiary held a 22 percent market-share in U.S. beef processing and an 18 percent market-share in poultry processing.

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