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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: The crisis in Alberta is NOW By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 28, 2018

Hundreds of truckers joined the Truck Convoy in Nisku on December 19, 2018 to support the oil and gas industry in Alberta.Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS You do not have to be a petroleum engineer to see where Alberta is heading in 2019. Down, down, down. Not an earth-shattering Depression-era or early-‘80s downward spiral. Just the same relentless grinding – the same double-clutching through endless muck – as has been happening since the Great Oil Price Collapse of 2014. It’s not about massive lay-offs, not in the private sector. Every job done by a human being that could be eliminated has been eliminated. It’s about 0% wage increases, a steady cutting of employee benefits, no more company pension plans, buy-outs of employees 55 or older … Graduates from NAIT or the University of Alberta in any of the “hard” sciences – i.e. engineering, computer programming – used to have jobs waved in their faces. N ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A contradictory year for business in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 21, 2018

Hundreds of truckers joined the Truck Convoy in Nisku on December 19, 2018 to support the oil and gas industry in Alberta.Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS What a contradictory year 2018 has been for metropolitan Edmonton’s business community. On the one hand, Edmonton entrepreneurs are growing super frustrated. For the fourth year in a row, they’ve been double-clutching through non-stop muck, barely making any progress, seeing profit margins drop from 10 or 20 per cent to two-to-three per cent, dipping into the red ink for longer and longer periods of time. The doors are staying open, but barely. The big truck convoy protest out at Nisku earlier this week, 2,000 trucks strong, gave shape to that  frustration. The ‘S’ word — separation — no matter how hypothetical, is working its way back into the political conversation. On the other hand, there’s growing resiliency and resolve. The small-to-medium sized enterprise ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Good projects if we can afford them By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun December 7, 2018

The JW Marriott hotel in the Edmonton Ice District reaches into the clouds on March 19, 2018.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia, file By GRAHAM HICKS Enough of this pipeline doom ‘n’ gloom! ‘Tis time to be a tad optimistic about Edmonton’s future.  (I’ll try to be optimistic. In my heart of hearts, I am dead worried about the future of my children in this province.) Three major land-use projects are underway in the downtown. If properly done, prudently funded, they should gently contribute to the city’s economic wellbeing and quality of life. The one I like best — the Central Warehouse Park — is well underway. The City of Edmonton is creating a big (1.4 acres — about a square city block) new, traditional city park in the downtown. It’s north of Jasper Avenue, from 106 Street to halfway between 107 and 108 Streets. Think of the surface parking lots behind the big Boston Pizza building (at Jasper and 106 Street), behind Audr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Good projects if we can afford them By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun December 7, 2018

The JW Marriott hotel in the Edmonton Ice District reaches into the clouds on March 19, 2018.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia, file By GRAHAM HICKS Enough of this pipeline doom ‘n’ gloom! ‘Tis time to be a tad optimistic about Edmonton’s future.  (I’ll try to be optimistic. In my heart of hearts, I am dead worried about the future of my children in this province.) Three major land-use projects are underway in the downtown. If properly done, prudently funded, they should gently contribute to the city’s economic wellbeing and quality of life. The one I like best — the Central Warehouse Park — is well underway. The City of Edmonton is creating a big (1.4 acres — about a square city block) new, traditional city park in the downtown. It’s north of Jasper Avenue, from 106 Street to halfway between 107 and 108 Streets. Think of the surface parking lots behind the big Boston Pizza building (at Jasper and 106 Street), behind Audr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: How much more can Alberta’s government spend? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 30, 2018

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley (Right), United Conservatives leader Jason Kenney (Left) By GRAHAM HICKS What in God’s name is this spend-until-we’re-bankrupt socialist Alberta government doing, announcing a purchase of $350 million worth of railroad oil tankers to move an extra 120,000 barrels of dilbit (diluted bitumen oil) a day – about 4% of Alberta’s current daily oil output? Look – we all knew the oilsands crisis was going to happen, as sure as night follows day. And now the day of reckoning has arrived. Oilsands production has grown. New extraction plants started before the 2014 oil-price collapse are now on stream. The ability to move additional oil from Fort McMurray via pipeline, as has been explained ad nauseum, has not. The smart oil-patch money knew this would happen. They knew the soft and wishy-washy Justin Trudeau federal government, for political reasons, would passively allow this economic crisis to happen. The smart oil-patch money – l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Stop the Spending! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 23, 2018

Premier Rachel Notley speaking at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta at the Shaw Conference Centre on November 20, 2018 in Edmonton.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By Graham Hicks FINALLY! In Calgary, the taxpayers finally spoke with a loud, clear voice. No Olympic bid! We can’t afford it! For once, the madness of profligate government spending has been curbed. The irresistible attraction of politicians like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to firmly fix their fingers around glittering baubles with no realistic return has been thwarted. Imagine! Spending unnecessary millions/billions when Calgary’s commercial tax base has dried up due to half-empty office towers, when Calgary has such a high unemployment rate — not necessarily among the lesser-skilled, but also of skilled professionals. Imagine!  This drowning-in-debt New Democrat party, that will govern Alberta for at least the next six months, was prepared to spend yet another $700 million (that it did not have) ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Century Park reboots by GRAHAM HICKS first published Edmonton Sun, November 16, 2018

In 2017, after extensive negotiations/discussions with city planners, city council approved a revised Century Park master plan, reflecting current urban trends with more, but smaller apartment units.Elise Stolte, Postmedia Network Two-parts businessman, one-part dreamer. You don’t know him, but the fingerprints of George Schluessel, president and CEO of real-estate development company ProCura and the new Optown, are all over Edmonton. ProCura is behind the re-boot of the 42-acre, 4,000-unit Century Park urban village, snugged in beside the LRT’s southwest terminal. By comparison, downtown Edmonton has 10,000 apartments/condos. ProCura is now building Central Tower, the fifth of up to 10 architecturally impressive residential towers within Century Park’s grand urban plan. Downtown, ProCura has transformed Jasper Avenue and 109 Street, re-fitting and re-imagining the once-aging Associated Engineering Tower (now WSP Place) and the gleaming black Intact office building. Two new ProC ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: MIA MLAs, oil investment and a little bit of this 'n' that BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 9, 2018

Robyn Luff, MLA for Calgary-East poses for a photo in her Calgary office on Aug. 20, 2018.Al Charest/Postmedia DOES ANYBODY KNOW THESE PEOPLE? When the Alberta NDP government was elected in May of 2015, the same question reverberated through business circles.  “Does anybody KNOW any of these people?” Outside of their own constituencies, you still hardly see or hear from those NDP MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) who are not cabinet ministers. Representing Metropolitan Edmonton constituencies for the NDP are Erin Babcock, Jon Carson, Estefania Cortes-Vargas, Lorne Dach, Nicole Goehring, Trevor Horne, Jessica Littlewood, Rod Loyola, Annie McKitrick, Chris Nielsen, Marie Renaud, Heather Sweet, Bob Turner and Denise Woollard. Does anybody even recognize their names? The only non-ministerial Edmonton NDP MLA with any kind of public profile is Edmonton Centre’s David Shepherd! Now we know why. Calgary MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the NDP caucus for spilling confidenti ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Not much in it for Alberta on LNG approval By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 2, 2018

Rendering of the North West side of the LNG Canada.Supplied / LNG Canada By GRAHAM HICKS Congrats to British Columbia. But is that the sound of one-hand clapping? It looks like the $40 billion – that’s BILLIONs, not MILLIONs – LNG Canada project/port is going  ahead. At least all the permits and processes and environmental this ‘n’ thats have been approved. LNG Canada will build a mega-specialized transfer port at Kitimat – in the same general region as Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast – to receive  natural gas through as yet-unbuilt-but-approved pipelines from the Montney natural gas fields of northeastern B.C. The gas shipped to the Kitimat plant will be super-cooled to the point of liquification, pumped into specialty LNG tankers and transported across the Pacific Ocean to countries where natural gas prices are five times higher than in North America. Thanks to new drilling and extraction technologies, Canada and the ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Growing high-tech companies takes time By GRAHAM HICKS, first published September 28, 2018

The city skyline, in Edmonton Alta. on Tuesday May 10, 2016. Photo by David Bloom ... Stock photo STK skylineDavid Bloom / Postmedia Network By GRAHAM HICKS Edmonton’s high-tech companies often receive gobs of publicity when they are new-born, touted by government-funded economic development agencies as can’t-miss companies with breath-taking new technology. The expectation is of instant success. The reality is most new, innovative companies face 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, are chronically short of investment cash, barely make their payroll and take two steps back for every three steps forward. Everybody is looking for the next Microsoft, Apple or Amazon. That’s not going to happen.  For most start-up companies, on-going success is A) not going out of business,  B) being a sound, small business generating $3 to $5 million in revenues a year, making a niche product with 10 to 50 employees, and C) if a company does shut down, its principal partne ... Read the rest of entry »
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