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.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 Residents from about 10 central Indiana counties were in Columbus Monday to hear from experts on the impacts of large confined animal feeding operations known as CAFOs.

The talk brought out concerned residents in Bartholomew and surrounding counties.

It was organized by Indiana CAFO Watch and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

Retired University of Missouri agricultural economist John Ikerd was one of the speakers.

Tom Blackwell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjblackwell/5659432136

New federal rules making more white-collar workers eligible for overtime pay could be finalized in the next few weeks -- but the state doesn't know exactly how many workers stand to benefit.

Right now, most workers can't earn overtime if they make more than about $24,000 a year. That threshold is slated to more than double this summer, meaning if an employee makes less than $50,400, they'll be paid for working beyond 40 hours a week.

It sounds like good news for workers -- but state Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Brinegar isn't so sure.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana towns have a new priority when it comes to driving population growth and improving their economies: their downtowns. The Regional Cities Initiative is Indiana's first major, direct funding boost for those -- but it's just the latest in a string of public and private investments.

In the first part of an occasional series on Hoosier downtowns, Indiana Public Broadcasting's Annie Ropeik reports on the push to modernize Main Street.

 

Irene Grassi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sun_sand_sea

The USDA is offering up nearly $12 million in funding to increase internet access in rural communities.

The annual federal grant program has funded one major Indiana broadband project in the past -- an $800,000 community computer center for Harrison County, near Kentucky.

Phil Lehmkuhler is the USDA's rural director in Indiana. He says it's hard to do business these days without the web -- more goods and services go online every year, putting disconnected towns at an increasing disadvantage.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting

 

A property rights battle over public access to Indiana's Lake Michigan shore is moving forward with a new issue in the mix -- erosion.

Patricia Sharkey's home in the LaPorte County town of Long Beach is about a block away from a stretch of huge lakefront summer houses. In 2013, homeowners there sued the state, contending their private property extends all the way to the water.

CB&I

Duke Energy's coal-fired power plant in Terre Haute is officially shut down. The company's air quality permit at the Wabash River Generating Station expired Friday.

 

It's the only plant the national power company will close, as it works to comply with new federal pollution rules.

 

As part of a settlement with environmental groups, Duke set a 2016 deadline for cutting out coal at its power plants, or cleaning them up to meet stricter EPA standards.

 

Vincennes University

 

Vincennes University is teaming up with Indiana manufacturers to recruit more women into tech and engineering jobs.

 

The public school will sponsor 46 women to live in a dedicated dorm while pursuing two-year science, technology, engineering or math degrees next fall.

 

bartb_pt/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/bartb_pt/7669702266/

 

The bankruptcy filing of the nation's biggest coal company will likely have repercussions in Indiana.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy will keep operating mines like Bear Run in Sullivan County, for now.

But the bankruptcy could impact more than a thousand Peabody Energy employees across the state.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana has the fifth largest pig farming industry in the country, turning out 8.5 million hogs a year. But some are too small for the huge slaughterhouses that require pigs to be a certain size and condition for speedy processing.

Now, Indiana's industry to broker these smaller pigs is growing.

Nebraska-based Wiechman Pig Company opened a new facility in Delphi in late March. Inside, a big, friendly sow greets manager Jeff Petree. She's one of a couple dozen pigs he bought from Indiana farmers in his opening week.

Josh Delp/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/repoman/3891445356/

The state Department of Agriculture is looking for new ways to make Indiana specialty crops competitive.

They'll divide more than $380,000 among research and marketing projects for fruit, veggies and more. The federal money comes from the USDA’s specialty crop block grant program.

 

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