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.

Federal officials have closed a one-time extension for companies that needed more temporary visa workers – landscapers and other non-farm laborers.

Indiana brings in hundreds of these workers a year and makes up about one percent of the program nationwide.

Typically, nearly half of the nation’s H-2B workers are landscapers, and that proportion is even higher in Indiana.

For fiscal year 2017, more than 70 percent of the state’s 1,550 H-2B visa workers were brought on in landscaping jobs.

Indiana-based American Senior Communities is suing its former executives over claims they embezzled millions from the nursing home company in a years-long kickback scheme.

The civil suit follows a major federal money laundering and fraud indictment last fall.

Former American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart and his COO Daniel Benson were indicted in October 2016 on charges of money laundering and fraud.

Lake County and East Chicago could have new affordable housing by 2020 as part of a state tax credit program called Moving Forward.

It’s how officials plan to fulfill their promise to help East Chicago residents displaced by lead contamination.

Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority executive director Jake Sipe says Moving Forward tries to rethink affordable housing as about more than just a number of units.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving East Chicago nearly $4.1 million to tear down a contaminated former public housing site.

The money must be used within a year – though HUD hasn’t officially approved the city’s controversial demolition plan for the West Calumet Housing Complex.

HUD classified the demolition as public housing emergency work as it issued the new grant money. The federal agency says it’s needed to prevent danger to human health “because of limited capital funding currently available to the housing authority.”

Eighty-four percent of Hoosiers have broadband internet access. Those that don’t live mostly in rural places – where poor connectivity is an economic problem.

The state legislature heard a range of ideas to fix that problem Thursday in their first of three study committee meetings on rural broadband.

Rep. Dave Ober (R-Noble County) says flat or shrinking populations make for tricky economics that will demand multiple solutions.

UPDATE: Indianapolis officials have since announced their plans to formally bid for the Amazon project. Read the story here

State officials won’t say if Indianapolis will join the race to house Amazon’s next headquarters. And despite the Hoosier capital’s push to become a tech hub, analysts say the it may face an uphill battle if it opts to bid on the massive project.

Indiana economic development officials are in Japan this week to bolster relationships with the Hoosier State’s top source of foreign investment.

The Asian nation backs more business in Indiana than in any other state – especially in the automotive sector, at Honda, Toyota, Subaru and their suppliers.

And that investment isn’t just about jobs. Those big Japanese-owned factories are also huge energy consumers. That’s why Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Japan trip includes power company executives, such as Harold Gutzwiller of Hoosier Energy in Bloomington.

Gov. Eric Holcomb isn’t saying if Indiana will take any action around Hoosiers with DACA status, given to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

About 10,000 people in Indiana have that status, out of 800,000 nationwide. But President Donald Trump said this week the program will end and that status will be revoked in six months without Congressional intervention.

Nearly 10,000 people in Indiana are approved for benefits through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – also called DACA – which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and thousands more could be eligible, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The Trump administration confirmed Tuesday it will end DACA in six months, but Hoosier enrollees and advocates hope Congress will intervene before then.

The $130-billion merger of chemical and material manufacturing giants Dow and DuPont is now official, nearly two years after it was first announced.

In the next 18 months, the newly created DowDuPont will split into three businesses – for material sciences, specialty products and agricultural chemicals.

The agriculture division stands to affect Indiana the most. Dow AgroSciences has 1,500 workers in Indianapolis, and more at seed and chemical dealerships statewide.

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