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

OTTO/ANHEUSER-BUSCH

While the prospect of self-driving trucks is exciting - and a little scary - it also raises the question, what happens to truck drivers?

As Colorado Public Radio reports, a self-driving semi-truck, just a few months ago, transported beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, Colorado, setting a Guinness World Record in the process.

A monthly survey of business leaders suggests that in Kansas and other Midwestern and Great Plains states, business conditions worsened slightly in July, but should improve.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index dipped by 6 points in July, falling to 56.6. Overall, the survey's index range is from 0 to 100; an index greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy.

Steve Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

The construction of what will be the largest single-site wind farm in the United States was announced last week, and the site will provide power to residents of Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.

Bidgee / Wikimedia Commons

As Amarillo’s economy booms, many lower-income Amarilloans have struggled to find homes with adequate space for their families in an oversupplied housing market.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, many residents are turning to manufactured homes, as a result. Manufactured homes, also known as mobile homes, offer more room and more privacy than apartments in the city.

Farms and ranches throughout the country won’t see their labor shortages solved by a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a call with reporters while visiting Mexico ahead of the trade talks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said labor issues likely wouldn’t be addressed during formal negotiations among the United States, Mexico and Canada, set to begin August 16th.

Innovate Impact Media / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate remained steady in June, hovering at 4.3 percent.

As The Oklahoman reports, analysts believe this is not a sign of stagnation, but rather an indication that the state’s economic woes are on the upswing. Lynn Gray, the director of research and analysis at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, said Oklahoma’s jobless rate has been stable for several months, and the state is seeing increases on the payroll side.

Colorado Goes High-Tech To Battle DUI-related Crashes

Jul 24, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Colorado’s department of transportation is using technology to combat driving under the influence.

As The Prowers Journal reports, of the more than 21,000 DUI filings made in Colorado last year, 40 percent involved individuals with a prior DUI offense.

The unemployment rate remains low in Kansas, but the state has been shedding private sector jobs in recent months.

Numbers from the Kansas Department of Labor show private sector jobs were climbing from January to March. But according to a new monthly report, the state began losing private sector jobs -- more than 11,000 of them from March to June.

Manufacturing jobs fell over that period, but not nearly as much as service sector jobs. The area that sagged the most includes the support jobs for organizations, such as office administration, personnel services and cleaning.

Wikimedia Commons

Texas now leads the nation in job growth, according to new numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission.

As The Dallas Morning-News reports, the Lone Star State’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.6 percent, which puts Texas slightly higher than the national rate of 4.4 percent. However, Texas performed better than most of the country.

Colorado Unemployment Rate Remains At Record Low

Jul 23, 2017
50states.com

Colorado’s unemployment rate has continued at record lows for the past three months.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Colorado’s unemployment rate in June stayed at 2.3 percent.

Leaflet / Wikimedia Commons

Texas has more farms than any other state in the union. And now, as The Austin American-Statesman reports, the Lone Star State also leads the U.S. in number of farms owned by foreign entities. In the past 10  years, foreign companies and individuals have bought up almost two million acres of land in Texas.

The combined worth of all that land tops $3 billion dollars.

LARS P / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Kansas and Texas are among 12 states that Microsoft aims to bring broadband Internet to within the next five years.

U.S. Air Force photo

Four states in the HPPR listening area are among the top 10 states to start a business, according to a new study.

The personal finance website Wallethub compared several key metrics, including business environment, access to resources and business costs.

In the analysis, Texas was found to be the second best state in America for new businesses, while Oklahoma was number four, Nebraska number five and Colorado number seven.

Pixabay

The proliferation of wind farms in the western part of Oklahoma has been causing headaches for the U.S. military’s aeronautical operations in the region, reports The Tulsa World.

Creative Commons CC0

The depressed prices for wheat, corn, milo and other commodities - caused by a global glut of grain - is pushing some farmers further into debt.

As The Hutch News reports, net farm income for last year averaged $43,100, which while much better than last year, is significantly lower than record farm income farmers reaped from 2010 to 2014, when the average ranged between $130,000 to nearly $170,000 - thanks to high commodity prices for both crops and cattle.

NY - HTTP://NYPHOTOGRAPHIC.COM/

The issue of immigration is of great economic significance to the High Plains region, as much of the population in the area consists of immigrants, many of whom work in agriculture-related fields.

royal_broil / Flickr Creative Commons

The election of Donald Trump has thrown the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement into a tailspin. The President has openly derided NAFTA as “the worst deal ever.”

But, as The Atlantic noted this week, Trump won’t find many who agree with him among America’s farmers.

Beef Products Inc. settles lawsuit against ABC

Jun 30, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Beef Products Inc. has settled a $1.9 billion lawsuit against ABC News.

As the Sioux City Journal reports, terms of the settlement are confidential, but in a statement, BPI Attorney Dan Webb said the company was “extraordinarily pleased” with the settlement and that BPI’s product has been vindicated.

In a written statement, an ABC spokesperson said the “amicable resolution” of the lawsuit was in the network’s best interest.

San Antonio Express News

In a recent editorial in the San Antonio Express-News, two prominent Texas economists suggested ways to revitalize the rural economy in Texas.

Many people in Texas yearn for small-town life, write Thomas Tunstall and Gil Gonzalez, but their rural work options are limited. An investment in rural infrastructure, including broadband, would help this problem.

Justyna Furmanczyk / Texas Tribune

Texas has been booming since 2010, and new census bureau numbers show that Hispanics account for a major part of that growth.

amarillo.com

The announcement that Amarillo’s downtown area will soon receive a minor league baseball team is just the latest boon to an already healthy economy in the center of the city.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, Amarillo’s downtown area already has 16 commercial development projects in the works. The projects are worth a combined $150 million dollars to the local economy.

Oil tug-of-war featured in New York Times article

Jun 20, 2017
HITCHHACKING / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The oil market is featured in a New York Times article that highlights the years-long tug-of-war between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - which has attempted one failed tactic after another to conquer the oil glut that is expected to suppress prices for at least another year - and companies continuing to tap into shale reserves across the U.S., driving oversupply and low prices.

Two giants of American agriculture and industry are closer to becoming one.

 

After coming to an agreement with U.S. trade officials to bring American beef to China after a 14-year hiatus, the most populous country in the world is set to once again import U.S.-raised beef. To take advantage of the massive new market, however, the U.S. cattle industry is going to have to make some changes.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

This month Oklahoma will be gearing up for its annual rye harvest. Here on the High Plains we don’t hear as much about rye as we do about other crops like wheat, corn and sorghum.

But, as StateImpact reports, Oklahoma is actually the largest producer of rye in the United States, and demand is on the rise due to America’s craft beer and whisky explosion.

People that live in rural areas are more connected to the internet than they’ve ever been, but they still lag well-behind their urban and suburban counterparts in access to high-speed Internet, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

Roughly two-thirds of rural Americans have a broadband internet connection at home, Pew suggests. That’s a much higher rate than just ten years ago, when only one-third of rural Americans had broadband at home. Rural residents, however, are still 10 percentage points less likely to have broadband access at home than people in cities and suburbs.

Boot Hill Distillery

After being in business for less than a year, the Boot Hill Distillery is at it again - winning awards - this time for its whiskey.

Just a few months after the Dodge City, Kansas startup received a bronze medal for its vodka, it received another couple of awards for its Red Eye Whiskey.  

North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative

The former agriculture secretary for the Obama Administration is leading an effort to expand the old north Denver stockyards - the location of the National Western Stock Show - to a 240-acre hub of agricultural innovation.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said researchers based there will also try to solve global hunger by researching crops that can grow with less water.

William Luther / San Antonio Express News

Unemployment numbers for April have been released, and Texas added over 30,000 new jobs on the month, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

That means the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month held steady at five percent. Meanwhile in Oklahoma, the rate remained unchanged at 4.3 percent, despite the Sooner State shedding 2,500 jobs last month. 

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