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Hoosier farmers didn't make much progress planting corn in the past week, after a strong early start -- and they're running out of time to get the state's signature crop in the ground.

Heavy spring rainfall didn't stop Indiana farmers from planting twice as much corn by the start of May as they had in 2015. They were on their way to planting a projected 2.6 percent more acres of corn than last year, despite a glut of the crop worldwide.

Pledge Drive Goals

May 4, 2016

An employee rights complaint by a former Valparaiso Menards clerk led this week to a labor victory for all 45,000 of the home improvement chain's workers across the Midwest.

The issue was over mandatory arbitration, which is legal -- companies can require employees settle complaints out of court, but they have to make sure employees know what rights they're giving up.

NLRB.gov

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered an Indianapolis-based construction staffing firm to allow workers to discuss unions and compensation on the job.

Commercial Trade Source, or CTS, is one of few companies to fight this battle at the federal level. It's effectively a temp agency, providing skilled workers for construction projects nationwide.

Until now, CTS policy forbade workers from discussing wages or unionization on the job -- whether through conversation, flyers or union-branded clothing.

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.

 

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.

 

Purdue, Rolls-Royce Partner Up For $33-Million Project

Apr 14, 2016
Rolls-Royce / http://www.rolls-royce.com/products-and-services/civil-aerospace/products/civil-large-engines.aspx

Rolls-Royce is expanding its engine research presence at Purdue. The two are partnering on a $33 million upgrade of Rolls' lab in the Purdue Research Park.

Indianapolis Research and Development head Lisa Teague says the company will use the upgrade to work on building more efficient jet engines. With the millions of miles planes fly, even a 1 percent improvement in efficiency could cut fuel costs significantly.

The company is also studying ways to manage the hotter temperatures that accompany efficiency improvements.

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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.

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