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

Jorge Luis Plata / Reuters

The largest wind farm in U.S. history was just given the green light, reports Business Insider.

Wind XI is the $3.6 billion project in Iowa that will include 1,000 turbines. The operation is expected to be completed in 2019. Upon completion the wind farm will generate up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power roughly 800,000 Iowa homes.

WBAY

The total number of farms in the U.S. is decreasing. But the number of women-led farms has increased, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As WBAY reports, the percentage of primary farm operators who are women has doubled in the past 20 years. The share of farms owned by women is up to 14 percent now, according to the last census by the USDA.

Theodore Scott / Flickr Creative Commons

A battle over local power in rural Colorado could have national implications, reports the The Rural Blog.

A small electric co-operative in Montrose, Colorado, is battling its supplier over how much local power it should be able to get from sources other than the big power company. The Delta-Montrose Electric Association is one of 43 rural utilities in four states that buy power from the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

In today’s collaborative economy, communication is a valuable skill. So are traits like punctuality, problem-solving, and the ability to collaborate.

But, as The Denver Post reports, many Colorado businesses are having trouble attracting workers with these necessary “soft skills.” The trouble is largely due to Colorado’s tight labor market.  

Center for Rural Affairs

A recent environmental study got Brian Depew of the Center for Rural Affairs thinking. After mulling the info from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, Depew penned a column on the rural development potential of transforming the energy sector.

Creative Commons

Prices for pot are plummeting in Colorado, reports Business Insider.

Last October the cost of a wholesale pound of cannabis sat at around $2,500. Since then the price has been cut by $1,000, falling to around $1,400.

nebraska.tv

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer gathered a prestigious roundtable of telecommunication and agriculture leaders at the Nebraska State Fair this week, Nebraska.tv reports. The commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission even paid a visit.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

At one time Colorado was one of the nation’s biggest apple producers, on par with Washington state. Colorado’s apple farmers even won gold medals at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, back in 1904.

Jeremy Lange / New York Times

A federal court’s decision concerning a broadband internet case could have wide-ranging implications for rural Americans.

This month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee. These laws will halt the growth of municipal broadband networks in those states.

Matthew Mahon / The Wall Street Journal

Texas has added more wind-based capacity than any other state, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The Lone Star state still embraces its oil and gas, and Texas has garnered many headlines leading role in the fracking revolution. But the state has also quietly been becoming a renewable energy powerhouse.

Flcelloguy / Wikimedia Commons

West Texas has experienced one of its worst oil slumps ever in recent years. But this week, as the Wall Street Journal reports, there are signs that a long-awaited recovery may be coming soon.

A recent Wall Street land grab in the Permian Basin has energized the market, and sent some shares soaring. Blackstone Group LP announced last week that it has agreed to invest $1.5 billion toward drilling in West Texas.

AP photo

Colorado's job market contracted slightly in July, reports The Colorado Springs Gazette. As a result, the state’s unemployment rate inched up to 3.8 percent.

AP photo

While the U.S. at large gained workers at a healthy pace last month, unemployment in Kansas is on the rise again. Kansas shed 5,600 jobs last month, sending the unemployment rate up to 4.1 percent in July. That’s up from its level of 3.8 percent in June.

Wallethub

The U.S. is unrivaled worldwide in power and prosperity. Despite this fact, the U.S. has the ninth highest rate of child poverty among economically developed nations.

Nearly one in five American children live in poverty. The personal finance website Wallethub recently determined which states are the best and worst for underprivileged children.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr Creative Commons

A new Oklahoma liquor law is set to take effect in a little over a week. And, as KOKI reports, Oklahoma craft beer brewers are making final preparations for the shift.

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.

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