High Plains Public Radio

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

AP photo

Oklahoma’s oil and gas economy is showing the first signs of growth in nearly two years. The good news comes courtesy of an energy index used to track movement in the energy economy.

As News 9 Oklahoma reports, data collected in May showed a three-point increase in the index over the previous month. Before May, the index hadn’t shown growth since October of 2014.

amarillo.com

Two hundred employees at the distribution center owned by Hastings Entertainment are saying their goodbyes this week. Tuesday was the last day for Hastings’ warehouse and customer service workers, reports Amarillo.com.

Earlier this week, 150 employees of the soon-to-close entertainment chain gathered for a job fair at Sunset Center in Amarillo. Businesses like Suddenlink and the Salvation Army were there to take employee applications.

Eddie Seal / Bloomberg News

Texas is the most productive state for wind power—by far. The Lone Star State pumps out 18,000 megawatts of energy a year, reports the MIT Technology Review. And that’s not counting an additional 5,500 megawatts of possible further capacity, which is equal to California’s entire installed wind capacity.

techcrunch.com

When people hear terms like “tech” and “startup” they generally think of cities like San Francisco and New York. But a “Silicon Prairie” has continued to grow in certain parts of the rural Midwest, reports TechCrunch.com.

This could be good news for areas in the heartland where population loss has been a real problem. Some states are turning to technology to fight back against the dwindling population trend.

Creative Commons

Monsanto’s newest herbicide-tolerant soybean seeds have not yet been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. But that hasn’t stopped the company from releasing the product to store shelves. 

Patrick Jonsson / Christian Science Monitor

In recent decades, a gulf has been widening across the US between the haves and have nots. And rural America certainly hasn’t been immune to the trend, notes The Christian Science Monitor.

Images_of_Money / Creative Commons

The economy in Nebraska appears to be going strong, according to a new study. Economic growth in the Cornhusker State is expected to continue through the rest of the year, reports the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Andrea Morales / New York Times

Oil workers in Texas can breathe a bit easier this month. Some oil and gas industry experts have predicted that the market has, finally, bottomed out. And now it appears maybe those predictions are coming true.

Energy producers across Texas cut 900 jobs last month. That’s not great news by any means, but it’s much better than the seven to 8,000 jobs the industry eliminated in January and February, reports Fuel Fix.

Joe Ledford / Kansas City Star

Kansas gained almost five thousand jobs in June and now has record employment for the state, reports The Kansas City Star. But those numbers belie a more trouble state of affairs. Kansas had the seventh worst job growth rate in the country over the past twelve months. The state’s growth rate inched along at only 0.2 percent.

Houston Chronicle

The State of Texas experienced dismal job growth during the month of May. But now, reports The Houston Chronicle, the Lone Star State’s job numbers have rebounded somewhat.

Brian McCormack / Wichita Eagle

Sugarcane aphids have returned to Kansas’s grain sorghum fields, reports The Wichita Eagle. According to a K-State Extension Office report, the invasive insects are once again threatening the state’s sorghum profits, as they did last year.

angeladellatorr / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent study by a Cornell economist has found that the more you acknowledge good fortune, the better off you are.

As Quartz.com reports, successful people who believe they made it entirely on their own are almost certainly mistaken. Every path to success is marked by teamwork and innumerable bits of good luck. It doesn’t generally pay off to not acknowledge those who have helped you along the way, says Robert Frank.

Dan Garrison / Harvest Public Media

In the small farming town of Palisade, Colorado, there’s a lab known simply as "The Insectary." Scientists in the facility are hard at work developing bugs. These insects are engineered to attack other bugs and invasive plants harmful to agriculture.

The adapted critters are known as “biocontrol insects.” Despite its humble surroundings, the Insectary is the oldest and largest such facility in the United States, reports member station KUNC.

Grant Gerlock / NET News/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to agricultural biotechnology, Federal regulations are falling behind the times, says NET Nebraska. “There’s a lot of technology sitting on the shelf in Nebraska, and Illinois, and Missouri that’ll never see the light of day because of [Federal] regulations,” explains plant scientist Tom Clemente.

artbandito / Creative Commons

Economies are continuing to weaken among ten Western and High Plains states with large rural populations, reports The Columbia Missourian. The info comes from a monthly survey of bankers. Those surveyed hailed from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Chickens aren't a traditional pet. But with chicken coops springing up in more and more urban and suburban backyards, some owners take just as much pride in their poultry as their dog or cat. So much so that they're primping and preening them for beauty contests.

Scotty J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly/The Guardian/Getty

In 1999, the federal government found big tobacco companies guilty of racketeering under the US’s RICO law, traditionally used to go after organized crime syndicates. The Feds found that big tobacco had knowingly funneled money to fake research groups whose job it was to disseminate “science” claiming that smoking wasn’t, in fact, bad for you.

Dan Boyce / PBS/Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

On the worst day of Greta Horner’s life, she was dressed in a burlap robe, waiting by the window for her husband to come home from work.

The couple was down to one car. The other one was in the shop. She donned the costume for a play, set in Old Jerusalem, later that morning, part of Vacation Bible School at the church. She just needed the car to get there. 

Chris Carlson / AP photo

Last year Lincoln Clean Energy proposed a plan to cover 2,400 acres of the Texas Panhandle with a solar farm. The initiative would have cost $320 million, and been capable of powering 40,000 homes, reports Fuel Fix.

But now, months later, the project is stalled due to one problem: No one wants to buy the electricity.

Rural Blog

It seems that every week some enterprising individual invents a new use for drone technology. As The Rural Blog noted last week, drones have been used for wildlife research and preservation, for catching other rogue drones, and even for end-of-life care.

Public Domain

A new report predicts that construction will be the fastest growing sector of Nebraska’s economy through 2018, says Net Nebraska. The study predicts that construction employment in Nebraska will reach a record level this year and continue to grow. The sector is expected to expand by almost 10 percent over 2007 levels. Much of the construction growth will be due to state tax dollars for roads projects.

blackhillsenergy.com

Black Hills Energy has purchased a natural gas transmission pipeline in southwest Kansas from Anadarko Natural Gas Co., reports The Garden City Telegram. The Kansas natural gas utility closed on the sale this week of the 37-mile length of pipeline.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska.

He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call “the chain” – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

“You’ve been working there for three hours, four hours, and you’re working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster,” he says. 

Rural Blog

In the near future we may see robots replacing workers on farms, reports The Rural Blog.

In the past, the main barrier to replacing human labor with mechanical workers has been price. But now, those costs are lowering, according to a Boston-based firm that studies new technology. Meanwhile, farm wages are rising. When wages overtake the cost to run robots in the fields, humans will be replaced.

gohastings.com

I worked for Hastings for a few years, in college, managing the book department and working at the front counter. In one way or another, Hastings has always been there for me. The retailer is as much a part of my childhood as Palo Duro Canyon or Cadillac Ranch--more so, probably, given how often I shopped there.

Wheat as We Grow It

Jul 13, 2016
Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

From the way it is grown, harvested and processed into flour, and the way it's entwined in the lives of the families who produce it, wheat's journey is an emotional one.

In a time where agricultural practices are questioned at every turn, it's important to look at what's being done to keep our food safe while conserving the environment while providing enough food for the earth's inhabitants.

Richard Carson / Reuters

Due to its large deposits of shale oil, the United States has more recoverable oil available than either Russia or Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters. The information comes from a new report by Norwegian consulting group Rystad Energy.

The study contends that the US currently holds an estimated 264 billion of barrels of reserves in existing fields, discoveries and yet to be discovered fields.

That’s eight billion more barrels than Russia has, and over 50 billion more barrels than the Saudis.

Jolie Green / Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

For the first time nearly 15 years, the price of wheat is so low that government loan programs have once again kicked in.

Anthony92931 / Wikimedia Commons

Beginning in September 15, 2016 twice-daily flights will begin traveling out of Denver to Dodge City and back.

The service will be provided by PenAir, one of Alaska’s largest regional airlines, reports the Dodge City Globe. Schedules and fares are now available at PenAir.com. or by calling PenAir’s Central Reservations at 800-448-4226.

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