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

Reynaldo Leal / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

The president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told business leaders that unemployment and education should be viewed apolitically to avoid risking Texas and the rest of the country becoming less competitive.

Rutlo / Flickr Creative Commons

Amazon’s largest wind farm to date is up and running in West Texas, reports Engadget.com.

Known as Amazon Wind Farm Texas, the wind energy operation is located in Scurry County, near Snyder, Texas.

The entire operation includes over 100 turbines and will generate enough clean energy to power more than 330,000 homes. Amazon plans to take whatever energy it needs from the farm, then sell the rest to the state’s energy users.

USDA Won't Implement Tougher Meatpacker Rules

Oct 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t go forward with rules meant to make it easier for small livestock producers to report possible unfair treatment.

The agency’s decision on the proposal, which came at the tail end of the Obama administration, was announced Tuesday and met with mixed response.

Updated Wednesday at 10:34 p.m.

Tyson Foods is considering Sedgwick County and two other locations in Kansas as possible sites for a new $320 million poultry processing complex.

Gobierno de Chile / Wikimedia Commons

Evidence is mounting that President Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is taking a heavy economic toll on rural America, reports POLITICO.

U.S. farmers and meat producers had been looking forward to seeing Asian markets opened up to their products. Instead, countries like Japan have taken their business elsewhere, seeking to purchase meats, grains and fruits from countries with lower tariffs.

Bayer AG announced the sale of a large part of its agribusiness on Friday. The deal will move the company closer to yet another big deal.

Bayer AG says it sold part of its crop science division to BASF for $7 billion.

The sale includes Bayer’s field crop seed and pesticide businesses.

Bayer says the move is “an active approach” to help it win regulatory approval for its proposed buyout of Monsanto.

That $66 billion deal will merge two of the world’s largest agribusinesses.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, the coal industry got a bit of good news when former Texas governor and current U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested that failing coal plants be subsidized by United States taxpayers.

But coal's reprieve from bad news was short-lived, as last week the energy giant Luminant announced it would shut down three coal-fired power plants early next year.

Michael Barera

The Texas Legislature’s controversial “bathroom bill” generated a strong backlash among the business community this year. The proposal was ultimately stopped, largely due to the moderate leadership of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Now, as The Texas Tribune reports, Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas is smart about attracting new companies going forward.

Harry Wood / Wikimedia Commons

The Mexican government has raised the amount of ethanol allowed in a gallon of gasoline, in a move that could have a big effect on the oil and corn producers of the High Plains.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, Mexico has upped the allowable percentage of ethanol from 5.8 percent to 10 percent, which is also the level currently allowed in the U.S. Now, some of the world's biggest biofuels companies are jockeying for a position within what is the world's fourth largest gasoline market.

OTTO/ANHEUSER-BUSCH

Approximately 1.8 million Americans, primarily men, drive trucks for a living, but with companies like Google eyeing automated trucking, those jobs could soon be a thing of the past.

As The Guardian reports, automated vehicles are projected to save billions but cost millions of jobs, as Google, Uber, Tesla and major truck manufacturers look to automate the trucking industry.

At the very least, truck drivers could be downgraded to co-pilots, once automation hits the industry.

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary from the farm and foreign agricultural services.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

A new report shows that big tax breaks may be causing significant harm to Oklahoma’s economy, reports KFOR. The study by a consulting group in Philadelphia reveals that one specific tax deduction alone has caused the state to lose close to half a billion dollars.

Oklahoma’s capital gains tax deduction has slashed tax revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars, while only creating an estimated $9 million in additional tax revenue.

Gov. Sam Brownback says Kansas officials are still trying to attract a Tyson chicken processing plant to the state, after plans stalled to build one in Leavenworth County. Brownback says things will be handled differently this time around.

When Tyson announced plans for the $300 million facility outside Tonganoxie, there was a sizable public outcry and the proposal was put on hold. One reason for the opposition was that the plans were developed in secret and only made public after local officials had already promised economic incentives.

Drenaline / Wikimedia Commons

Xcel energy is seeking approval for new wind farms in the Texas Panhandle. If the plans are approved, the new turbines—along with a new farm planned for New Mexico, would generate 40 percent of the region’s power needs by 2021.

In an editorial for North American Wind Power, Betsy Lillian says the new project would power almost half a million homes. She attributes the viability of the project to Xcel’s previous investment in a high-voltage transmission network in the Texas Panhandle.

Schellack / Wikimedia Commons

The Roth family, founders of Beef Products Incorporated, announced this week that they have established a $10 million fund to benefit former employees.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports that the money will go toward helping communities affected by plant closures. In 2012, BPI laid off approximately 750 employees and closed three production facilities, including plants in Amarillo and Garden City.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

Financial analyst Frank Holmes recently wrote an editorial in Forbes magazine praising the ingenuity of Texas fracking companies. It’s only due to this ingenuity and efficiency, he wrote, that West Texas producers can remain profitable, even though oil prices are still hovering around the range of $50 a barrel.

Hellorawr / Wikimedia Commons

Midland, Texas, is in the midst of an oil boom. Homes are selling for over $1 million. Real estate prices shot up almost 9 percent in the past year, and permits for new construction climbed 76 percent.

CCO Public Domain

The Colorado economy will continue to grow at a steady clip, according to state economic forecasts released last week, thanks in part to rebounding oil prices, but rural Colorado isn’t expected to benefit as much as other parts of the state.

Baytownbert / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been called the “Texas Miracle,” the notion that the Texas economy can weather any storm and will continue to sail smoothly while other states flounder.

But now, according to a prominent expert on the Texas economy, that miracle may have come to an end.

State officials are hoping to keep a new Tyson Foods chicken plant in Kansas after the company put on hold plans to build the $300 million facility in Leavenworth County.

Tyson is looking at other locations in Kansas and other states after public outcry and a local decision to back away from promised incentives

Small companies in Kansas looking to expand their export business can get financial assistance through the state's Department of Commerce.

The Small Business Administration awarded the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The $380,000 grant was awarded on Tuesday.

The money will be used to help small and medium-sized businesses begin exporting for the first time or expand their existing export business.

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.

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