Annie Ropeik

IPBS Economy Reporter

Annie Ropeik is the economy and business reporter for the Indiana Public Broadcasting network, based at WBAA. She’s covered farming, fisheries and other industries at public radio stations from Massachusetts and Delaware to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, and earned accolades from the Alaska and Delaware Press Clubs for her reporting on rural business issues. Originally from Silver Spring, Md., Annie has a Hoosier mother and a degree in classics from Boston University. She also performs a mean car concert, boasts a worryingly encyclopedic knowledge of One Direction lyrics and is a Hufflepuff.

Indiana’s recommended rates for workers compensation insurance will continue a multi-year decline in 2018. Officials say the nearly 13 percent drop in their benchmark rate for insurers is due to fewer workers’ comp claims and on-the-job injuries.

Indiana companies have to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover medical bills and lost wages for employees who get hurt on the job. But different jobs have different risks – you’re more likely to get hurt at a factory than behind a desk.

Indiana’s ports move millions of tons each year of the stuff that’s made and used at Midwest factories, including steel, grains and coal. The three ports – one on Lake Michigan and two on the Ohio River – connect Indiana to the national and global economies, and each has to find its own ways to keep up with change.

For the first part of a three-part series, we visited the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor to see how it’s secured its place in the steel industry.

State lawmakers Wednesday heard a lot of support and a few fears about the local impacts of short-term housing rentals through platforms such as Airbnb.

Commerce and Economic Development Study Committee members say they want any future regulations on the issue to protect property rights – for both hosts and their neighbors.

Indiana is partway into a record-setting cash crop harvest – but months of uneven weather conditions have put some farmers behind.

The state’s soybean crop is 42 percent harvested as of this week, about the same as average. But the corn crop lags at just 24 percent.

Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen says wet weather earlier this year forced some farmers to plant late or replant their crops, and cool August temperatures lengthened the growing season.

Indiana’s top agricultural official will become the nation’s first undersecretary for foreign agricultural trade.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Ted McKinney to the newly-created Department of Agriculture post Tuesday.

In a statement, USDA secretary Sonny Perdue says McKinney will “wake up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets.”

The herbicide dicamba has damaged large swaths of Midwest crops in the past year. But Monsanto, one maker of the weed-killer, says it’s a small-scale problem for a powerful tool.

The agritech giant’s CTO Robb Fraley addressed the issue during a recent talk at Purdue University’s Dawn or Doom tech conference.

Fraley basically invented genetically modified crops – mainly, ones that kill pests or tolerate certain chemicals.

President Donald Trump called the GOP’s tax reform plan a “middle class miracle” as he rolled out details in a speech in Indianapolis Wednesday.

Trump said tax reforms passed in Indiana before and during Vice President Mike Pence’s time as governor should be a model for national change.

Indiana has agreed to buy Ohio River-front land in Lawrenceburg that could house the state’s fourth port.

The state has been considering using the 725 acres in southeast Indiana as its next port facility for nearly a year.

Now, it’s inked an agreement to purchase the site, pending further study. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office says the agreement will let port officials “begin studies to examine the economic and environmental viability of the parcel.”

Steelworkers from around the country were in D.C. this week to ask Congress to strengthen its support for the domestic steel industry.

Among them was Billy McCall, who’s worked at U.S. Steel’s huge Gary Works mill for more than 20 years.

He and other United Steelworkers union members talked with federal representatives this week about an ongoing trade investigation into the effect of excess Chinese steel imports on national security.

McCall says that’s about not just defense, but infrastructure and people.

Indiana’s business community is waiting to see how federal tax reform plans, set for release next week, might impact their companies and workers.

At a roundtable in Indianapolis on Thursday, business leaders said they want to communicate to their workers and the public that lowering America’s corporate tax rate will be good for more than just executive paychecks.

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