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Playlist: NPR Economic Training Project's Portfolio

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Gambling Down

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 02:57

As unemployment rises in Montana, fewer people are gambling.

Default-piece-image-2 Montana state revenue collections from gambling machines are down for the first time ever.  And the state lottery is also showing a drop in profits.

Ranch Economy

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 04:23

In the last century the American West ranch economy has drastically changed.

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Small, family run ranch operations aren't what they used to be.  The cost of insurance, equipment and energy are rising, so some ranch families are forced to supplement their income from selling livestock.  One ranch family near Helena, MT has come up with some pretty creative ways for making ends meet.

 


Montana Minimum Wage

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 03:25

The minimum wage went up by $.35 in Montana in July

Default-piece-image-0 The state of Montana says about 25,000 people work for the minimum wage.  Starting July 24th it's going up by thirty five cents.  It's a welcome increase for minimum wage earners, but some economists think it could do more harm than good.

 

 

          

Montana Timber Economy

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 03:57

Many timber operations are fighting to stay in business.

Copy_small The timber industry has been on the decline in Montana for the last couple of decades.  Some operations in the state are fighting to stay open.  They're taking advantage of government grant and loan programs.  And in some cases owners are pouring their own money into their mills. 

           

           

         

Turning to a Mediator to Break Up in Tight Times

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:07

Even the business of love is being hit by the recession. Or, actually, the business of... the break-up. As fights over finances, layoffs and foreclosures strain some marriages to the breaking point, the economic downturn is also changing how some people manage the process of divorce... by turning to mediation.

Default-piece-image-0 Even the business of love is being hit by the recession. Or, actually, the business of... the break-up.  As fights over finances, layoffs and  foreclosures strain some marriages to the breaking point, the economic downturn is also changing how some people manage the process of divorce... by turning to mediation.

GI Bill

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 02:39

A new generation of veterans are joining the ranks of those going to college for free under the new GI Bill.

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The Post 9-11 GI Bill took effect this month and the federal government expects more than half a million soldiers will head back to school this fall. Montana Public Radio Capitol Reporter Emilie Ritter has more from a University of Montana Helena student who probably wouldn't be where she is today without the GI Bill.

Funding for the Arts

From Emilie Ritter Saunders | 04:15

Schools, roads and bridges are starting to get a face lift thanks to federal stimulus money.

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But one area of the economy often overlooked during months of reporting on the stimulus package is arts and culture.  Thirteen arts organizations in Montana are getting a boost from the federal government and one economist says funding the arts could be more of a stimulus than fixing roads.

 

 

Hawaii Professors Get Help With Expensive Housing

From NPR Economic Training Project | 03:33

At the UH professors contending with the highest home prices in the nation may benefit from a new mortgage assistance program.

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For years the University of Hawaii has had problems with retaining talented faculty due to the high cost of housing.  Now UH administrators are dusting off a mortgage assistant program shelved since 2004.  But as HPR’s Ben Markus reports, some professors aren’t convinced it’ll make a difference.

Hawaii Economy Struggles Over Furlough Uncertainty

From NPR Economic Training Project | 03:32

Hawaii is considering furloughs for state workers. But the contentious negotiations with public worker unions is already hurting the economy.

New_image_small Furloughs are at the top of Governor Linda Lingle's agenda as she continues negotiations today with the state's public employee unions.  If she gets her way-for the next two years-state workers will take three unpaid days a month-dubbed "Furlough Fridays."  But economists warn that across-the-board pay cuts for the largest employer in the state will delay a recovery.  HPR's Ben Markus reports.

University of Hawaii May Layoff Tenured Professors

From NPR Economic Training Project | 03:37

Facing drastic cuts, UH is talking retrenchment. Known as the "R" word in academic circles, it simply means laying off tenured professors.

New_image_small Hawaii commuters know from the traffic, it's the beginning of another school year at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.  Because of the state's financial mess, students and professors come back to a campus in crisis.  The University took a 66 million dollar cut this year.  That's prompted the administration to take a hard look at professor layoffs and program cutting.  HPR's Ben Markus reports.

Hawaii Fish Farmers Under Fire From Natives

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:44

America's first open ocean fish farms started in Hawaii. But ten years on, a fringe Native Hawaiian group is protesting expansion plans.

New_image_small Hawaii is still the only state in the nation that leases ocean to fish farmers.  But only two operations are up and running in the ten years since it's been legal.  Now they want to expand...but they're running up against fierce opposition from a little-known Native Hawaiian group.  HPR's Ben Markus reports.

Kauai Island's Unemployment Strains Social Services

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:05

Kauai's tourism-based economy has been hit hard by the global downturn. And the growing number of unemployed are seeking out help for food.

New_image_small High unemployment levels have rocked the nation. From Detroit to Los Angeles - nowhere is left untouched. As a state, Hawaii's unemployment rate is well below the national average. But neighbor island jobs are disappearing at alarming rates. HPR's Ben Markus visited Kauai and has this report.

Kauai's Tourism-Dependent Economy Struggles Back

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:01

Kauai's economy, like the other neighbor islands, is less diversified than urban Oahu. And since no one's taking luxury vacations, times are tough.

New_image_small Tourism globally is in the midst of a historic decline and Hawaii is not immune.  The less diversified economies of the neighbor islands are the hardest hit.  On Kauai arrivals fell by 20-percent last year.  HPR's Ben Markus visited Kauai and has this report.

Restaurants Dish up Summer Nostalgia

From Rachel Ward | 03:22

Nothing says summer like a trip to the beach, a hot, and behavioral economics.

Default-piece-image-2 We've all seen the Starbucks across the street from the Starbucks, or two or three pizza parlors duking it out on the same corner. Rochester has its own version of this, at Seabreeze, where there are three places to get a white hot, a ground with hot sauce, and an order of onion rings. WXXI's Rachel Ward has more.

Consumer Confidence Explainer

From Rachel Ward | Part of the Economics Training Project series | 04:07

It's a number that you hear a lot - but what does it mean when consumer confidence goes up or down?

Default-piece-image-1 Consumer confidence for the month of July was flat - that is, consumers didn't lose hope completely, but they didn't get any more optimistic about the economy either. WXXI's Rachel Ward took to the streets of downtown Rochester to bring us this explainer, on how consumer confidence works.

Bottle Bill Changes on the Horizon

From Rachel Ward | 04:23

Changes in New York's bottle law have been in limbo, but on October 22 the nickels could start piling up.

Default-piece-image-0 Starting in October you may be paying a little bit more for bottled water. WXXI's Rachel Ward has this report.

Unemployment and Foreclosure in Palmdale

From Brian Watt | 03:19

Long-term unemployment leads to foreclosure for a family in Palmdale, CA.

Cesar_and_me_019_small The foreclosure crisis is moving from sub-prime mortgages and other complex loans to the unemployment rolls.  Cesar Hernandez didn't have a sub-prime mortgage or a risky loan to cover his 3 bedroom house in Palmdale. But he lost his job almost a year ago and hasn't worked since. He tried to fight off foreclosure with no success.  A visit with Hernandez as he packs up days before his family  must be out of the house. 

Parks and Rec Budgets Suffer Nationwide

From NPR Economic Training Project | 06:03

As the national economy sputters, state and local governments have put the squeeze on spending. One of the first areas to feel budget cutbacks is parks and recreation.

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As the national economy sputters, state and local governments have put the squeeze on spending. One of the first areas to feel budget cutbacks is parks and recreation. State parks and after-school rec programs are on the chopping block - at a time when demand for these services is shooting up.  KUER's Jenny Brundin reports.

Parks and Rec Budgets Suffer Nationwide

From NPR Economic Training Project | 06:03

As the national economy sputters, state and local governments have put the squeeze on spending. One of the first areas to feel budget cutbacks is parks and recreation.

Default-piece-image-1

As the national economy sputters, state and local governments have put the squeeze on spending. One of the first areas to feel budget cutbacks is parks and recreation. State parks and after-school rec programs are on the chopping block - at a time when demand for these services is shooting up.  KUER's Jenny Brundin reports.

Howard Rides the Wind

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:31

The small town of Howard, South Dakota stands to benefit from green energy bill being considered in congress. But not everyone in town is backing the measure.

Howard_turbines_prx_small To make up for the job losses seen in the recession President Obama is pushing for new green jobs in a bill aimed at addressing energy and climate change. 

The small town of Howard, South Dakota is poised to benefit from a boost to wind energy.  But not everyone in the town is behind the climate bill.  



Howard Rides the Wind

From NPR Economic Training Project | 04:31

The small town of Howard, South Dakota stands to benefit from green energy bill being considered in congress. But not everyone in town is backing the measure.

Howard_turbines_prx_small To make up for the job losses seen in the recession President Obama is pushing for new green jobs in a bill aimed at addressing energy and climate change. 

The small town of Howard, South Dakota is poised to benefit from a boost to wind energy.  But not everyone in the town is behind the climate bill.  



Tribe Buys Wall Street Firm

From NPR Economic Training Project | 05:14

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota has bought a Wall Street firm that manages 1.4 billion dollars in assets.

Lower_brule_prx_small The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota has purchased the New York based "West Rock Group."  The move makes the tribe the owner of one of the largest minority run firms on Wall Street.  Westrock is now free of federal income tax, and will send profits back to the impoverished Lower Brule Tribe.  But not everyone on the reservation is behind the move. 

Non Profit Mergers

From NPR Economic Training Project | 05:13

Economy Pressures Some Non-Profits to Merge

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Non-profit organizations can be found in just about every corner of the economy. They range from A to Z – arts organizations to the zoo. Not counting schools and churches, the Nashville area has an estimated 1,000 active non-profits, and that may be too many. With less cash to go around in the current economy, organizations are taking a second look at merging. Others are linking up out of sheer necessity. WPLN’s Blake Farmer reports.

Hard Times at the Cornerstone Mission

From Charles Ray | 03:52

Like many other homeless shelters around the country the Cornerstone rescue Mission in Rapid City is seeing an increase in demand and a decrease in donations in this economic downturn.

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The last safety net for homeless people in Rapid City is the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

 

This economy is hitting the mission hard. Demand for services is up and donations are down.

 

The mission is now serving four-hundred meals a day, and its emergency shelter is so overcrowded that people end up sleeping on the floor. 

 

On today’s Dakota Digest SDPB’s CMR spends some time talking with a single mother at the mission.

 

--------------

 

Allison Clifford is 24 years old. 

 

Sequoia, get down please. 

 

She’s the single mother of five kids. 

 

Calvin stop -  go into the living room please.

 

All of her kids are younger than 4 years old.   So a conversation with her gets a lot of interruptions. 

 

Nathanial No – No Please.  Nathanial get away.

 

Clifford does a great job of keeping her kids out of trouble while taking about her life in the women’s dorm at the Cornerstone rescue Mission.  Clifford looks comfortable in this small room in a t-shirt and flip-flops sitting on a chair with one and a half year old Sequoia on her knee.   She says she came to Rapid City seven months ago from the Rosebud Reservation.

 

Because my kid’s father is an alcoholic and a drug addict and I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want my kids in that environment and it would start our arguments was horrible and I didn’t want my kids in that environment so I left him. 

 

Clifford and her kids are lucky.   These days a spot in Women’s shelter is hard to land.  Here 23 women and children are packed into nine rooms. Clifford and all her kids share one small room.  Lou Ann Thudium (Thoo-dee-uhm) who runs this dorm has to turn away applicants every day. 

 

I have so many families that calling in that I can’t take.  Because, I don’t have the room and there is no place to send them – then they have the children.

 

Increased demand and dwindling resources is a problem Jim Castleberry struggles with on a daily basis. Castleberry is the Executive Director of the Mission.  He says this shelter is in the same position as other homeless facilities across the country.   The Cornerstone started out this year about 120-thousand dollars in the hole, primarily because large corporate donations didn’t come through.  

 

The drain on the mission has been huge – this is the first year again that I can remember that we’ve pretty routinely had to go to our savings account to make payroll.

 

The Cornerstone includes an emergency shelter, along with men’s, women’s and veterans dorms, plus a day care, transitional housing and a kitchen.    The entire facility is geared at getting people out of homelessness and into jobs.   But Castleberry says this is very challenging in this tight economy, where there is high competition for even the low paying jobs.

 

This is Senator Johnson – Hi Nice to see you...  (nat fade under)

 

The difficulties at the Cornerstone recently brought US Senator Tim Johnson to tour the facility.   Johnson has introduced legislation that will open extra beds in VA hospitals to homeless veterans.   Castleberry says this bill is welcome but won’t help the immediate need at the Cornerstone.   For this Senator Johnson is calling on the people of Rapid City. 

 

It’s a terribly needed time the finances are falling short and there is a great need for people to come forward with their money or their services or their help to make this thing work.

 

(sound of kids playing)

 

Back at the women’s dorm, Allison Clifford is feeding her 6th month old baby while her other children play in a small living room.  She says her kids are comfortable here. It feels like a home for them.   Clifford says her boyfriend used to hit her when he got drunk.  She came here to break this cycle of abuse.

 

I just want to continue raising them really good – putting them in school and giving them a better life than I’ve had instead of living with a alcoholic family you in violence and stuff like that.

 

Clifford been trying for the last seven months to find employment in order to sustain herself and her kids.  She’s files 20 job applications every week.   She’s had no luck yet.

 

For SDPB I’m CMR in RC

 

 

A Decade of Clinton's Empowerment

From Charles Ray | 04:23

Ten years ago then President Bill Clinton Came to the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota and established an "Economic Empowerment Zone" this piece looks at the last decade of this program.

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Suggested Lead:

 

The Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest areas of the United states.  

 

Ten years ago Bill Clinton came here and promised to help.   

 

Clinton sound bite --> Mitakuye Oyasin (Cheers)

 

With the Lakota words that mean “we are all related” then President Clinton announced that Pine Ridge would be part of an Economic Empowerment Zone. 

 

The designation promised to funnel millions of federal dollars into the tribal economy. 

 

SDPB’s CMR reports that despite federal help Pine Ridge is still struggling. 

 

----

 

(Stand-Up)

 

I’m in a 1997 Ford van right now, it’s got 137-thousand miles on it and most of those miles have been on roads that sound like this.

 

(sound of Van rattling down dirt road)

 

This van is the main public transportation for Lakota elders in the Pine Ridge town of Porcupine.  It’s used to help elders get to doctor’s appointments and to the local senior center for lunch each day.  Right now it’s stopping at a small house on a dirt road to pick up Marie Lamont.  

 

(door opens)

Hey!!

 

Lamont is a feisty Lakota grandmother who’s quick on the draw.  She says the elders here need a new van. She worries this one is unreliable and prone to break down.  

 

It seems like we’re the ones who are always begging – we keep banging our heads against the wall trying to get help for this help for that and it’s deplorable. 

 

Public Transportation is part of what empowerment zone money is supposed to improve here.   But today many basic infrastructure needs remain unmet on Pine Ridge.  Empowerment Zone Director George Wilson lays part of the blame on the USDA.

 

I believe it’s the largest bureaucracy in the world now that the KGB is out of Business.

 

Wilson’s exaggeration is due to his frustration with the USDA.  The Federal agency oversees millions of dollars in Empowerment Zone funds earmarked for this reservation. But Wilson says the USDA is putting up unnecessary road blocks, making it difficult for the tribe to access needed funds.  

 

 I could talk all day about the needs and the resources to meet those needs – but we can’t get over the hurdles to getting the federal bureaucrats to lighten up.

 

 (But cut –--  Else Meeks.)

 

It is a frustrating issue and I totally understand

 

Else Meeks is the new USDA State Director.  She’s has been a key player in the economic development of Indian Country for over 20 years.  Meeks says she knows the difficulties of dealing with the federal government, but now that she is a federal employee she can see the other side of the fence. 

 

As State Director I hope to bring as much money as I can to the tribes – so at this time I’m very confident that we’re going to get the money that has been designated to them.

 

 Meeks says the needs on Pine Ridge always outweigh the resources.  A decade after Clinton came to Pine Ridge about 17-million dollars have been spent on new sidewalks, buildings, sewer systems, and other needs.  Six million dollars remain unspent in the bank.   Ivan Sorbull is President of the tribal Chamber of Commerce, an organization started with empowerment zone seed money.  Sorbull says Pine Ridge is still developing the kind of basic infrastructure other communities take for granted.

 

We’re competing with towns that are over 100 years old so we’re just babies in this era – and it’s going to take a long time I mean it just doesn’t happen overnight. 

 

(click-click-click)

 

After lunch the Lakota Elders are trying to get back home...  but now the van won’t start.   The elders have applied for the money to replace this van – but the request has been tied up in the approval process for months.   

 

(click-click-click -- ) ( van starter making a clicking noise.)

 

The goal of the Empowerment Zone was to push communities toward economic independence, free of continued government support.   Pine Ridge has seen some solid improvements in the last decade, but it will take more work to get this economy on its feet.

 

(Click-click) –Vroom..    

 

For SDPB I’m CMR in RC

 

 

Children's Furniture Store Struggles to Survive

From NPR Economic Training Project | 06:03

What does it take to hang onto a small business in this recession? For the owners of the children’s furniture store “That’s My Room” in Salt Lake City…. a chilly home, bag lunches, and a really positive attitude. KUER’s Jenny Brundin has the story.

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What does it take to hang onto a small business in this recession? For the owners of the children’s furniture store “That’s My Room” in Salt Lake City…. a chilly home, bag lunches, and a really positive attitude. KUER’s Jenny Brundin has the story.

Georgia Banks Fear Fallout from Commercial Loans

From Odette Yousef | :57

The Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP funds heard concerns in Atlanta about an impending wave of commercial real estate loan failures.

Default-piece-image-2 Georgia saw more bank failures in 2009 than any other state, and the next three years may be even worse. That's what local players in the commercial real estate market told a federal panel. The Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, chaired by Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, was in Atlanta today.

Commercial Loans Threaten a Second Wave of Foreclosures

From Odette Yousef | 03:03

News of foreclosure on the proposed site for Trump Towers in Midtown have revived fears that a second wave of the mortgage crisis is on the horizon: this one caused by commercial loans.

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The Trump Towers luxury condominiums in Midtown are the latest major commercial real estate casualty in Atlanta.  Last week, the site for the project was listed as a foreclosure. 

Up until now, many distressed loans on office, retail, and condo buildings in Atlanta have defaulted, but few have gone into foreclosure.  But the news about Trump Towers has resuscitated fears that a second wave of the mortgage crisis is on the horizon: this one caused by commercial loans.