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Entries in Economy (14)

Thursday
Nov162017

Terminating NAFTA Would Devastate American Agriculture: The View of a Wheat Farmer

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

November 16, 2017

On average 50% of wheat grown in the United States is exported around the world, making trade a vital market to myself and fellow wheat growers. Our main message in North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) re-negotiations is “Do no harm.”

NAFTA is one of our most important trade agreements. Just last year alone, Mexico was our largest export market with about three million metric tons of wheat and is consistently in the top ten. Prior to NAFTA, U.S. wheat was subject to high tariffs and other trade barriers in Mexico. With zero duties and lifted tariffs, exports to Mexico increased by 400% ten years after implementation of NAFTA, compared to ten years prior to NAFTA.  

While we hope calls for withdraw are just rhetoric, we are taking this threat very seriously. In fact, threats alone have already hurt U.S. wheat. When it comes to commodities, if a customer is unsure of the reliability of their source, they will look to our competitors. Mexico has done just that after a trade mission to Argentina and Brazil in May which led to Mexican millers purchasing Argentina wheat. The first shipment purchased by eight companies will be made in late December and will be 30,000 metric tons of wheat as a trial.

Wednesday
Aug232017

White House: Infrastructure Plan to Come After Congress Handles Tax Reform

AASHTO Journal

August 23, 2017 

A top aide to President Trump told reporters Aug 15 that the administration plans to first pursue a tax reform plan in Congress this autumn, then turn to the long-promised infrastructure investment plan.
Gary Cohn, director of the president's National Economic Council, said the infrastructure plan would "come on the heels" of a tax overhaul, Politico reported. "We hope it's this year," he added.
While the president and others in the administration at times this year said they were close to introducing a project investment proposal for Congress to consider, the administration has so far offered only a few details and Congress has found its agenda clogged after numerous attempts to pass health care legislation.
Cohn's remarks to reporters, made at New York's Trump Tower where the president held a press conference after signing an executive order to speed environmental reviews and permitting for planned projects, indicated that the infrastructure plan might be pushed into 2018.
According to Politico, Cohn also said:
"We need to get taxes done between now and Thanksgiving. We need to get infrastructure going. As soon [as] tax comes out of the House and goes to the Senate, we'll put infrastructure in the House."
During the press conference, Trump was asked why he thinks he can get an infrastructure bill through Congress.
"Infrastructure is something that I think we'll have bipartisan support on," Trump said. "I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure."
Friday
Jul212017

Americans Say They Back Higher Gas Tax to Fix Crumbling Roads

Bloomberg

July 21, 2017

Congress hasn’t raised the federal gas tax since 1993 when Bill Clinton was president, but a narrow majority of Americans would support an increase to help fix crumbling roads and bridges in their own states.

Fifty-five percent of Americans in a Bloomberg National Poll say they would back an increase. The concept has bipartisan support, with majorities of Republicans (51 percent) and Democrats (67 percent) backing the idea.

Americans are tired of the condition of their roads and interstate highways and the 56,000 structurally deficient bridges nationwide, said Ray LaHood, a Republican and former U.S. transportation secretary under President Barack Obama who supports raising the gas tax.
“People are fed up,” LaHood said. “They’re ready for politicians to take action."

Read on...

Friday
Jul072017

Myth Busted: Tourism Industry Is Thriving in America’s Top Oil & Gas Producing States

Energy In Depth

July 7, 2017

The idea that fracking and tourism can’t coexist is something that has been perpetuated by anti-fracking activists eager to ban the practice in states like Maryland and Florida. But there’s a problem with the claim that fracking and tourism can’t co-exist: it’s false. In fact, America’s top oil and gas producing states also have thriving tourism industries as EID’s latest infographic shows.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the tourism industries of some of the top oil and gas producing states in the country: Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

Texas: U.S.’s No. 1 oil and natural gas producer

From 2008 – 2015:
  • Oil production increased 212 percent
  • Natural gas production increased 14 percent
  • Visitor spending increased 14 percent
Texas is the top oil and natural gas-producing state in America, producing 980 million barrels of crude oil and 7.9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas from April 2016 to March 2017. To put this into perspective, if Texas were a country it would be the world’s third largest producer of both natural gas (behind only the United States and Russia) and oil (behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq). That level of production equated to roughly $26 million per day ($9.5 billion annually) in state and local revenue for Texans in 2016, according to recent data from the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA).
Tuesday
Jun202017

Manufacturers Group Names Five Keys To Modernizing U.S. Infrastructure

Associations Now

June 20, 2017

The U.S. is beginning to lose its infrastructure advantage, which could have wide-ranging consequences, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The group is offering a five-step plan to help reverse this decline.

The United States is underinvesting in infrastructure and, as a result, is in danger of losing its standing on the global economic stage, says a report published earlier this month by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

For average Americans, the effect is visible: passengers frustrated by delays caused by power outages and other failures in public transit, commuters ensnared in traffic jams because of structurally declining highway systems, and businesses uprooting their operations to invest in countries with expanding infrastructure.

In “The U.S. Infrastructure Advantage,” AEM offers five key steps that policymakers and infrastructure stakeholders can take to put the U.S. on the path to reclaiming its infrastructure advantage:
  • focus on networks and systems
  • maximize use of smart technology
  • ensure rural-urban connectivity
  • expedite project delivery
  • provide adequate and reliable resources

Since AEM’s members and stakeholders rely heavily on a network of roadways, highways, waterways, and ports to meet delivery needs, they are well acquainted with the current state of U.S. infrastructure. “They are the ones that have the real stories to tell about how this impacts their businesses and how this impacts their lives,” said Kate Wood, campaign director of AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative, which released the report.

Read on...

Tuesday
May022017

Getting more out of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor

May 2, 2017

One of the exciting things about traveling the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor is seeing the economic development benefits of the increased number of travelers along the corridor.  Over the past couple of years, small towns have seen new hotels and truck stops… Dumas, TX; Stratford, TX; Boise City, OK; Eads, CO and Brush, CO have all seen this type of growth and there are others.

The question that is often asked is, what can we do to get even more economic benefit?  Our member, the Town of Limon, found one way to create a community vision designed to increase the economic benefit of its highway corridor as well as its quality of life.  Limon, a town with a population of under 2,000, rests at a highway hub where five major highways come together including the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and Interstate 70.  This small town, once bypassed by Interstate 70, has seen significant economic growth over the years including numerous truck stops, hotels, restaurants and convenience stores. Yet, the town continues to evaluate its potential and found that many of the travelers had no idea of the destinations available off the town’s highway interchanges. Despite reaching about 80,000 lodging nights a year, most visitors never explored the rest of the town to find out what was there.  Few recognized the cultural experience of the Limon Heritage Museum, the recreation opportunities offered by the Tamarack Golf Course, swimming pool, and fishing pond or the entertainment options of a historical movie theatre, bowling alley and local restaurants.

When Limon updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2014-15, it focused on economic development. The local citizens recognized the value of the transportation system including the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, but also recognized that they could still do better.  As a result multiple goals in the Comp Plan addressed the need to explore ways to provide the visitors a better understanding of what this small town had to offer, in the short and long term, and ways to encourage those travelers to #ExploreLimon. CLICK HERE to view or download the Comprehensive Plan.

These goals led the Town to apply on a national basis to host a Citizens’ Institute on Rural Designä (CIRD).  The CIRD program is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, USDA-Rural Development, Project for Public Spaces and Orton Family Foundation.  Limon was one of seven (7) communities across the nation to be selected from the 52 applications.  Following eight months of preparation, the CIRD workshop was held over a three-day period, February 27-March 1, 2017.  The Workshop included presentations focusing on wayfaring/signage and development of bicycle/pedestrian trails, but the majority of time was spent with community members creating visions for these two topics. The community was joined by National and State Resource Teams which brought significant expertise and energy to the small community. 

To see the final report, please CLICK HERE.  There are some great ideas included in the report for small community implementation.

For more information on CIRD, CLICK HERE.

As a result of the CIRD Workshop, the State Resource Team opened an even larger door to explore and implement not only the visions for wayfaring/signage and bicycle/pedestrian paths but many of the other projects included in the Comprehensive Plan.  The State Resource team has offered to host another project funders meeting to hear Limon’s “Grand Plan” and make commitment for funding a variety of long term community projects.  The transportation system continues to be a huge catalyst for accomplishing any of the goals and objectives defined during the planning process.  Without that transportation system, it is hard to picture Limon’s economy and quality of life.  That is one reason for Limon’s commitment to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. 

Limon’s economic plans are not limited to increasing and improving the visitors’ numbers and experience.  You will see in the Comp Plan that the community is also supporting of efforts to recruit primary jobs.  During the same period Limon was granted the authority to operate a Foreign Trade Zone and continues to look to provide a base for manufacturing, assembly and distribution.

Rural communities need to find ways to create the vision of their community for the future.  Hanging on to the status quo is not vision.  If you have questions, please contact Joe Kiely, who serves Ports-to-Plains Alliance as its Vice President of Operations (719-740-2240 – joe.kiely@portstoplains.com)

Tuesday
Apr252017

With NAFTA, Mexico and the U.S. build things together 

The Dallas Morning News

April 25, 2017

Since NAFTA was signed 24 years ago in my hometown of San Antonio, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada has more than tripled, and there is no question that Texas has benefited the most. With easy access to two of the busiest U.S. ports of entry via land and sea — Laredo and Houston — it is no surprise that Texas exported more than any other state in 2014, almost $300 billion-worth to countries worldwide. Across the U.S., all but ten states depend on Canada or Mexico as their largest export markets.

While "free trade" has been blamed for job losses in many parts of the nation, as of 2014 nearly five million jobs across the U.S. depend on trade with Mexico. These jobs are not just in Texas. In 2015, Mexico was the first or second export destination for 30 out of 50 states.

Read on...

Tuesday
Feb212017

Texas Oil Fields Rebound From Price Lull, but Jobs Are Left Behind

New York Times

February 21, 2017

MIDLAND, Tex. — In the land where oil jobs were once a guaranteed road to security for blue-collar workers, Eustasio Velazquez’s career has been upended by technology.

For 10 years, he laid cables for service companies doing seismic testing in the search for the next big gusher. Then, powerful computer hardware and software replaced cables with wireless data collection, and he lost his job. He found new work connecting pipes on rigs, but lost that job, too, when plunging oil prices in 2015 forced the driller he worked for to replace rig hands with cheaper, more reliable automated tools.

“I don’t see a future,” Mr. Velazquez, 44, said on a recent afternoon as he stooped over his shopping cart at a local grocery store. “Pretty soon every rig will have one worker and a robot.”

Oil and gas workers have traditionally had some of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs — just the type that President Trump has vowed to preserve and bring back. But the West Texas oil fields, where activity is gearing back up as prices rebound, illustrate how difficult it will be to meet that goal. As in other industries, automation is creating a new demand for high-tech workers — sometimes hundreds of miles away in a control center — but their numbers don’t offset the ranks of field hands no longer required to sling chains and lift iron.

Read on...