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Entries in jobs (5)

Monday
May152017

Signs of oil boomlet in North Dakota after pipeline finished

Calgary Herald

May 15, 2017 

 BISMARCK, N.D. — There are hundreds more jobs than takers in the heart of North Dakota's oil patch. Finding a hotel room, parking space or table at a restaurant is no longer easy.

More than two years after the state's unprecedented oil bonanza fizzled to a lull, North Dakota — the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas — is experiencing a sort of boomlet that has pushed daily production back above 1 million barrels daily.

"There is a long-term optimism that was not here just a year ago," said Williston Republican Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, whose western North Dakota district is in the epicenter of the state's oil-producing region.

Industry officials and others say the uptick comes from a bump in crude prices, regulatory certainty with the more drill-friendly Trump administration, better technology, and the prospect of nearly half of the state's crude coursing through the disputed Dakota Access Pipeline, which could open markets abroad where top prices are typically fetched.

Read on... 

*North Dakota State Senator Brad Bekkedahl is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors.

Friday
May122017

Secretary Perdue announces creation of Undersecretary for Trade

American Journal of Transportation

May 12, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny PerdueCincinnati, OH - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. Perdue made the announcement standing by barges filled with agricultural products along the banks of the Ohio River. As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.

Perdue issued a report to announce the changes, which address Congressional direction in the 2014 Farm Bill to create the new undersecretary for trade and also are a down payment on President Trump’s request of his cabinet to deliver plans to improve the accountability and customer service provided by departments.

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...

Friday
Jan202017

City, county working to bring jobs to Plainview with new business park

KCBD News Channel 11

January 20, 2017

Mayor Wayne DunlapThe City of Plainview could soon be home to a new business park, a venture Hale County and the city are working on together.

One of the main goals for the project is to provide more jobs.

"Roughly three years ago, Cargill Corporation closed here in Plainview," said Wendell Dunlap, Mayor for the City of Plainview, "and that afternoon, we realized for the very first time that we were not prepared to bring in new businesses."

The closure took nearly 2,000 jobs with it.

"We've been very very fortunate," he said. "For about a year we felt it. But, we have moved on."

Mayor Dunlap tells us the city and Hale County are going into business together.

"It's a 50/50 partnership on purchasing the land and also, on the operation of the land," he explains.

With about 100 acres of land already purchased, including the old Jimmy Dean plant, the city is hoping to create more jobs for folks who live out here.

"What we want is try to bring in businesses that employ 30, 40, 50, 100 people- is what we're hoping for," Mayor Dunlap says.

The mayor tells us he hopes construction will begin by the end of the year.

Read on...

Sunday
Nov172013

Guest Editorial: What About Blue Collar Jobs?

Greg Fulton is the President of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which includes over 600 companies involved in the trucking industry in Colorado. Colorado Motor Carriers is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.  As the Ports-to-Plains corridor grows communities are seeing the benefits of a growing economic base.  Springfield, CO was recently able to see a truck stop re-opened.  Greg’s comments about trucks and the jobs they create are benefiting communities across the entire region.

One can’t almost open a news web site or newspaper without reading about a public official indicating a need to attract "green industries" and high-tech companies to their state.  In general, the green industry tends to be those in the renewable energy area or those developing products which benefit the environment.  The high tech companies tend to be software or computer hardware businesses, service companies, bio-tech businesses and the like. There is a glamour and attractiveness associated with these industries because they are new, innovative and futuristic.  In addition to the media, our schools, colleges, and general society espouse the benefits and importance of these industries. 

In recent years this fascination with these newer industries has led to countless high-profile efforts by various states and cities to compete for these businesses in these "glamour" sectors.  State and local policymakers fall over themselves in trying to outdo each other in offering the greatest economic incentives to attract those companies hoping that they may obtain the next Microsoft or Evergreen Solar.  

At the same time, the results of some of the high-tech and green industry initiatives should offer a cautionary tale for public agencies.  Amidst a great deal of fanfare, communities, states and the federal government offered tremendous incentives, loans and grants to companies such as Solyndra and Solar Abound for the manufacture of solar panels several years ago.  While these efforts were well-intentioned, it resulted in taxpayers losing millions of dollars when these companies filed bankruptcy after a short period of time.  A further point of irony was that while these companies might have been glamorous, for the most part, the pay and benefits for most of the workers  was not impressive.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak in a small rural community on Colorado's eastern plains.   It had been years since I had been in the community which at that time had a small but vital downtown area.  Prior to my meeting, I decided to take a drive through the downtown area. I was saddened to see a number of the businesses closed due to a lack of business and depressed economy. This unfortunately is an all too common story for many of our rural communities. 

I was struck by the change and it helped me appreciate the economic challenges that our rural communities in Colorado face.  What was particularly difficult for me was knowing  that there were  similar rural communities within 150 miles of the town, located in an adjacent state, that were thriving.  The people in those communities were no more industrious nor more committed to their town than the folks in this rural Colorado town.  The difference was that in each case the community was the home to a major trucking company that served not only their own states but Colorado and the nation. 

Why Sydney, or Crete, Nebraska, versus Akron or Springfield?   Well, it isn't too complicated.  The difference is that states like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Utah have made a concerted effort to attract and retain trucking and distribution companies because they recognize the importance of these base industries to their economy and their value from a jobs perspective.  Those states realize that these businesses provide long-term stability and tend to weather economic downturns better than most . They also recognize that the wages  in the trucking industry tend to be significantly greater than the median pay for other jobs  in the country and that these jobs generally have good benefits associated with them.  In addition in a day and age when job security is a passing ideal, the ongoing need for truckdrivers and mechanics ensures that those individuals will never need to worry about a job.   Finally,  trucking and similar businesses beget other businesses who serve them with goods and services which creates even more jobs in the community which in many cases  may be located in rural areas or economically disadvantaged, small communities.

Unfortunately, over the years I have sat in a number of meetings where some state and local policymakers have questioned making any effort to retain or recruit logistics companies.  Some view these as "dirty businesses" that could detract from the state or local community's image.   They contend that we should be focusing on attracting only those businesses that fit the mold of being a "green or high tech industry".   I was astounded how little people knew about the trucking industry and its impact on our economy and the fact that this  industry has moved faster and gone farther than almost any other in regard to  environment improvements. 

The point isn't that states and cities should not seek to attract companies in these green, high-tech and bio-tech sectors.  Rather it is that policymakers should value and respect the many benefits offered by blue collar industries such as trucking and spend equally as much time and effort in retaining and attracting companies in this sector.

Our state has a diverse population and a variety of needs.  Let's not have our state and local governments hamstring themselves by only seeking those companies which fit into someone's definition of "green collar" or "high-tech"  jobs.  This not only adversely affects their economies but also limits the opportunities for good-paying jobs for many of their citizens.