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.

Peter M Graham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmgrah/106203145/

For the first time since 2013, Indiana's Farm Service Agency is running out of loan funding for banks and farmers.

A spike in loan applications has put the FSA close to its own lending record.

The agency lends money in two ways: directly to farmers for costs such as equipment upgrades or crops, and to local lenders as a sort of insurance on loans those groups give to farmers.

United Soybean Board

Farmers will soon have one place to store and share all the data they need to do business --  from crop yields to soil samples.

The Agricultural Data Coalition's new service is modeled after an online banking system.

The group of farm service companies and land grant institutions hopes it will refine workflow across a broad business network, where reliance on data has grown with technology.  

Carmel-based nursing home developer Mainstreet is now trading publicly in Canada as they expand nationally -- but not in Indiana, which has a moratorium on new nursing homes.

The company's new public affiliate, Mainstreet Health Investments, is worth almost half a billion dollars. It'll be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Annie Ropeik

 

Subaru is ahead of schedule on hiring 1,200 new workers at its only factory in the U.S., in Lafayette.

A thousand new employees are already at work at Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA), gearing up to start making new Outback and Impreza models later this year.

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) visited the plant on Thursday and praised the hire:

"It's a lot more fun if you're an elected representative to go to a building where they're adding people rather than subtracting them," he said.

 

Wikimedia Commons

A federal court in Chicago handed down a big win for workers last week. It said a Wisconsin tech company cannot stop employees from filing group labor lawsuits -- and that could have effects in Indiana.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Madison-based Epic Systems couldn't make employees waive their right to team up in court.

It nullified the arbitration agreement workers signed when they were hired, on the grounds it infringed on a federally protected right.

Center for Land Use Interpretation

A federal commission is launching an investigation into whether China stole trade secrets to fix steel prices.

 

It's a major victory for Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, which made the complaint that sparked the probe.

The major Northwest Indiana employer alleges that China broke the law to flood the steel market with cheap exports -- that it drove down American steel prices and cost thousands of U.S. jobs.

 

indianahci.org

The state is looking for small towns in need of some rebranding to apply for the Hometown Collaboration Initiative, now in its third year.

The program tries to help communities of fewer than 25,000 residents revitalize their economies.

 

In their first two years, Hometown Collaboration coaches helped train local leaders and plan new amenities in 10 small towns and counties.

ArcelorMittal

 

Governor Mike Pence is backing U.S. Steel in calls for an investigation into China's steel industry.

That's after the federal government imposed new tariffs on China last week -- a move some steelworkers say doesn't go far enough.

Last month, U.S. Steel asked the U.S. International Trade Commission for a total ban on Chinese steel imports, saying practices overseas have cost thousands of American jobs.

CAFNR / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafnr/10580373474/

There's a better-than-expected outlook for Indiana agriculture in a report out this week on what would happen if Congress ratifies the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is President Obama's big trade deal to reduce tariffs and open new markets with Pacific Rim countries. Congress could vote on it this year, and asked for this forecast from the U.S. International Trade Commission as part of that debate.

JD Gray/WTIU

North Central Indiana is hoping new state funds and collaborations will help attract workers and diversify local economies.

That's especially challenging in Elkhart, known as the recreational vehicle capital of the world -- and the city with the nation's highest unemployment rate during the recession.

Now, the RV industry is booming -- but that's created problems of its own.

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