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

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Drivers of electric cars in Oklahoma will soon be able to charge their vehicles much more easily.

As The Oklahoman reports, vehicle charging stations will soon be set up at Walmart stores in the Sooner State. The charging stations are being installed by Electrify America, a unit of Volkswagen Group of America. As of now, only four or five Walmarts in Oklahoma will receive the charging stations, with the possibility of more to come in the future.

Texas has long been known as an economic powerhouse among states, but High Plains residents may not be aware of just how powerful the Lone Star State is on the world stage.

According to a new editorial in Forbes, the economy of Texas dwarfs that of Russia, which is by far the largest country in the world by area.

For about 10 years Laura Krier has lived in Concordia, Kansas, a small town that she’s seen get only smaller.

Without some kind of economic development, she fears things it will only get worse.

Held up over disagreements over federal food stamps, the first draft of the 2018 farm bill arrived Thursday, bearing 35 changes to that program, including starting a national database of participants.

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30; in the past, Congress has had to extend their work beyond deadlines. The bill — released on Thursday — came from the House Agriculture Committee, which is headed by Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway.

Kansas oil production continued its decline in 2017 even as prices began to tick up.

Kay Ledbetter

A brewing trade war between the United States and China is making Texas cattle ranchers nervous about potential tariffs on their beef exports.

From The Texas Tribune:

Longtime cattle rancher Jason Peeler gets uneasy when he hears about a looming trade war between the United States and China, and he says he's not the only one. 

“We are nervous — we’re really nervous,” Peeler said.

Meant to fund the federal government through early September, the $1.3 trillion bill signed by President Donald Trump last week also includes money and changes for ag-related programs beyond the “grain-glitch” fix.

Updated April 4 to clarify the export percentage — China matters to the U.S. pork industry, as more than a quarter of all hogs raised here are shipped there. So, China’s decision to up its tariffs on 128 U.S. products, pork included, worried producers and rippled through the stock market.

From Texas Standard.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, activity at Texas factories expanded in March. But the report also indicated that the production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points – the sixth biggest drop since 2004. So what does this mean for the state and its manufacturing industry?

Unemployment Rates In Colorado And Kansas Hold Steady

Mar 27, 2018
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Colorado’s unemployment rate held steady between January and February.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor, Colorado’s unemployment rate was unchanged from January to February at 3 percent, with the number of people actively participating in the labor force increasing by 7,600 over the month and the number of people reporting themselves as employed increasing by 7,800.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico wrapped up the latest round of negotiations earlier this month over NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the trade pact, which he continues to call a bad deal for the U.S. But NAFTA has helped grow the beef industry beyond the U.S. borders, so while some worry about the Trump administration’s wavering commitment to NAFTA, others want more protections.

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Credit rating agencies recently sent a warning to the Lone Star State: If Texas doesn’t get its spending under control, including its overstretched obligations in the areas of public education, pensions, transportation and health care, then the state’s credit rating will be downgraded.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson / The Texas Tribune

Texas is among several states that will bar teachers, dentists, nurses and other professional license holders from renewing their licenses if they are in default on their student loans. Critics say the practice is counterproductive, since it impedes Texans’ ability to work and pay back those loans.

From The Texas Tribune:

The world’s largest meatpacking company, JBS, shrunk last week due to selling off its massive cattle feedlot operation — the most recent asset that the Brazil-based company has sold after becoming mired in multiple corruption scandals.

US Air Force

The Texas unemployment rate rose slightly in the most recent numbers, up 4.2% for January. As KFYO notes, the jobless rate in the Lone Star State is slightly higher than the national figure, which stands at 4.1%. Annual employment growth for January in Texas was 2%, marking 93 consecutive months of annual growth.

Amarillo’s unemployment rate, at 2.8%, is significantly lower than the statewide rate. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s jobless rate held steady at 4.1%, a tenth of a point lower than Texas’s.

Seeking what he called “clean” food for lunch, Alexander Minnelli chose ProteinHouse, one of the newer restaurants in downtown Kansas City.

When President Donald Trump follows through on his plan to tax imported steel and aluminum, American farmers will get less money for some crops and pay more for machinery.

Farm groups say their members worry the countries targeted by the tariffs (the list of which has not been finalized by the Trump administration) will tax farm products. The European Union already has threatened imports of corn, rice, cranberries, peanut butter, kidney beans, orange juice and even bourbon, which is usually made from corn.

There is a slight silver lining for consumers, however, because prices of those products may drop in the U.S.

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Craft brewers in the state of Texas are growing increasingly incensed at the way the state government has been treating their industry.

As the San Antonio Express-News reports, Brewers must face a labyrinthine set of laws if they hope to successfully run their businesses in the state. For example, if a craft brew pub wants to sell products from other beer makers, that's illegal. They can, however, sell wine or cider from other makers.

When a man places 40 dozen eggs on the conveyor in the check-out line at the grocery store, it begs the question: What’s he going to do with all of them?

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Xcel Energy is moving closer toward boosting wind energy production in the Texas Panhandle.

No matter how far fruits or vegetables travel, whether they’re grown organically or conventionally, they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients. The men and women in the fields try to grow foods with an eye to boosting the health factor, but researchers say it’s hard to measure the precise impact.

Samuel Capps / Wikimedia Commons

In a couple of weeks, a familiar site will disappear from downtown Amarillo. The Chase bank sign atop the city’s tallest building will vanish forever, as the national mega-bank consolidates its local operations in south Amarillo.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the chase departure is only one of a number of high-profile evacuations of the building in recent months. Xcel Energy and West Texas A&M University have also vacated or plant to leave their spaces in the tower.

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The Texas solar energy industry boasts the fourth highest number of workers nationwide, according to a new CNBC report. The Lone Star State employs almost 9,000 solar workers, just behind New York State and Massachusetts.

California employs by far the most solar workers nationwide, with a staggering 87,000 jobs devoted to solar power. In the Golden State, more than five million homes are run on solar energy.

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Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, because it is still illegal on the federal level, any job in the industry can be classified as trafficking in a controlled substance – something that is not necessarily a concern to industry’s state-licensed employees, except non-citizens.  

As Colorado Public Radio reports, just having a job in a marijuana dispensary or grow house can get even a legal resident deported and banned from the US – sometimes for life.

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In the midst of one of the worst droughts to hit the state in decades, Texas is experiencing another kind of drought.

From Texas Standard.

Texas cattle are known more for their beef than their milk. That’s for good reason: The Lone Star State is the country’s leader in beef production by a wide margin.

But don’t count out Texas dairy. Milk production is on the rise in the state, and that’s thanks in part to a move west. Ellen Jordan, a professor and dairy specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says the Texas produces more than 12 billion pounds of milk.

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The Amarillo City Council has approved a plan that would create one daily flight from Amarillo’s Rick Husband International Airport to Phoenix, Arizona.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the decision means American Airlines can now begin preparing direct nonstop air service between Arizona and the Texas Panhandle. The city council voted unanimously to approve the plan, which will open Amarillo air customers up to 89 domestic destinations and four countries out of Phoenix.

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Renewable wind and solar energy, along with a booming natural gas industry, continue to win the battle over coal in Texas.

As The Huntsville Tribune reports, last year Texas lost 455 coal-mining jobs, more than any other state. And the state’s biggest power supplier, Luminant, announced that it would be shuttering two massive coal-fired plants this year.

Agribusiness Mergers Putting Farmers In A Tight Spot

Feb 8, 2018
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Farmers who grow the corn and soybeans that our food system requires are in a tight spot.

As Mother Jones reports, growers depend on a very small number of companies, which have enormous leverage to raise prices, for seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers. Then, when farmers go to sell their crops, a few very large grain-trading firms have the leverage to keep prices down, due to a lack of competition.

From Texas Standard.

As President Donald Trump touts America’s nuclear arsenal, two nuclear weapons plants in the U.S. are running into some financial trouble. The Center for Public Integrity reports that the two plants – the Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. – have failed to keep the ambitious cost savings promises that were made four years ago.

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