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

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.

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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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Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate human lives; the storm likely killed thousands of head of livestock as well.

As Texas Standard reports, the full effect of the hurricane on the cattle industry in Texas won’t be known for some time.

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Even though oil and gas drillers have suffered through about three years of low oil prices, some of Colorado’s largest energy companies still seem optimistic.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Anadarko Petroleum pumped 33 million barrels of oil in the state last year, making them the state’s largest driller. 

SparkFun Electronics / Flickr Creative Commons

19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, including much of the High Plains region.

In this modern age, hundreds of small towns across America are essentially cut off from progress. Over the past few years, major American telecommunications companies have shown little interest in expanding broadband into rural America, saying such expansion isn’t cost effective.

After years of declining income on America’s farms and ranches, the agricultural sector might have finally hit the floor.  

The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture expect farmers to bring in more money this year than initially projected. Crop and livestock producers could net $63.4 billion in 2017. That would be an increase of nearly $1 billion from 2016, and would be the first time farmers see a rise in net farm income year-to-year since 2013.

Tyson Foods Inc. and Kansas officials unveiled plans Tuesday for a $300 million chicken facility outside Tonganoxie, a town about 15 miles northeast of Lawrence. The project will include a hatchery, feed mill and plant capable of processing more than 1 million birds per week.

Doug Ramsey, Tyson’s group president for poultry, said the complex will employ about 1,600 people and will produce trays of chicken sold at grocery stores.

 

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

The future of coal as a power source in Colorado is waning quickly, reports The Denver Post.

Over the past decade, Xcel Energy Colorado has shuttered a number of coal plants, and the utility behemoth is now arguing for shutting down two coal-burning facilities in Pueblo 10 years ahead of schedule.

Catmoz / Creative Commons

A professor of Energy Management at Rice University in Houston is warning that Hurricane Harvey may have a bigger effect on the nation’s oil supply that previously thought.

In an editorial in the D.C. political newspaper The Hill, Bill Arnold writes that Harvey is only the latest in a series of factors that have put pressure on the production, refining and distribution of crude in the U.S.

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