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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: High expectations for Canada's cannabis industry By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 8, 2019

One of the first cannabis crops at Freedom Cannabis is growing within strictly controlled circumstances. Graham Hicks / Postmedia Don’t get carried away. Despite much wishful thinking, Alberta’s brand-new legalized cannabis industry is NOT going to replace oil and gas. Alberta produces and exports 3.7 million barrels of oil and diluted bitumen PER DAY – at roughly $50 Cdn. per barrel, that’s $185 million PER DAY, or $1.3 billion PER WEEK. The federal government estimates total cannabis retail sales (legal) for all Canada this year will be around $726 million. Even if we double that number,  for spending on wholesale cannabis production, greenhouse construction, legal and accounting services, even if we add on the salaries of some 2,000 cannabis retail store employees and maybe 1,500 cannabis greenhouse workers … it’s the equivalent of – at most – two weeks of provincial oil and gas gross revenue. That said, the emerging cannabi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why cheap beef may be a thing of the past By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 31, 2019

A new trade deal with China is good news for Alberta cattle producers.Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why is beef so expensive, and pork so cheap? A nice four-pound (two kilogram) pork tenderloin for the family’s Sunday get together clocks in at a reasonable $20. The equivalent prime rib beef roast – two kilograms – would cost about $80! You can’t even buy a prime rib roast anymore! At the west-end Superstore earlier this week, all the roasts were cheaper cuts of beef – outside round for $13 a kilogram, blade roasts for $15 a kilogram. “We don’t make prime rib roasts anymore,” the meat counter clerk said. “They’re so expensive. People just don’t buy them.” Do you not vaguely remember a time when a good roast of beef and a pork tenderloin cost about the same? When beef ribs, kilo for kilo, were close to pork chops in price? When a 16-ounce porterhouse or a t-bone steak in a good restaurant didn’t cost a jaw-dropping $40 to $50 ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Driverless in Beaumont By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, May 24, 2019

The City of Beaumont unveiled ELAElectric Autonomous, the first Electric Autonomous Shuttle experience open to the community and will be free to ride, during a press conference in Beaumont, May 16, 2019. This will be Canada's first-ever pilot of an autonomous shuttle in mixed traffic use. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia We’ve heard it so often, we’ve become numb. Soon! Soon! Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will take over! No more human-driven vehicles, no more individually owned vehicles. We will all ride-share in a dial-a-bus-like municipal AV fleet. Soon! Guess what? Soon has become now! Right now, a 12-person fully automated van – no driver, no driver’s compartment – is scurrying up and down the town of Beaumont’s main thoroughfare, sharing the road with regular traffic. There’s plenty of leading-edge AVs out there – every major automaker has skin in this game. AV fleets are beginning to buzz around industrial sites, airports, golf courses, wherever there& ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's eyelash queen By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 17, 2019

SugarlashPRO founder Courtney Buhler poses in Sugarlash's soon-to-open headquarters on Whyte Avenue. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Name the Edmonton cosmetics company, that, in 10 years, has gone from a home-based business to a global eyelash company, with 35 staff and expected 2019 revenues of  $18 to $20 million? Stumped? Of course! But all will soon change. Courtney Buhler’s SugarlashPRO will be a local household name once the company unveils its storefront world headquarters, now under construction at Whyte Avenue and 108 Street, in the former BMO bank building. Courtney’s is a remarkable story of determination and perseverance, of sensing an opportunity, overcoming obstacles, taking on major financial risk … and winning. She started as a broke, 20-year-old single mom. Today she is only 30, with two more kids and a most supportive husband. Dustin Buhler formerly handled SugarlashPRO's logistics. Courtney and SugarlashPRO are proof positive that E ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Explaining Don Iveson By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 10, 2019

Mayor Don Iveson speaks with media at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce's Mayor's State of the City Address luncheon at Edmonton Convention Centre in Edmonton, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Ian Kucerak / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Mayor Don Iveson gave his sixth annual “State of the City” speech on Wednesday to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. As he moved into well-covered territory – high-tech, innovation, blah, blah, blah – my mind wandered. The next municipal election is October, 2021 –  2½ years away. If Iveson runs for a third time will anybody challenge him? I  doubt it. Mike Nickel, city council’s lone fiscal hawk, knows he can’t beat Iveson – heck, he couldn’t even win a UCP nomination in his provincial riding. Councillors Michael Walters and Sarah Hamilton have flirted with the idea. But neither would run against pal Don. As Iveson moved on  in a rather boring speech, I thought about his political p ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why moving oil by rail is a flop By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 3, 2019

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg. (File photo) By GRAHAM HICKS Today I am going to figure out, with the help of energy analyst Tim Pickering of Calgary-based Auspice Capital, one of the weirdest aspects of Alberta’s oil business. Despite good prices for our heavy oil, why has shipping oil-by-rail fallen off the map? Alberta oil producers are currently sitting pretty. Our Western Canadian Select (WCS) heavy oil – basically the oil from the oil sands — has moved from a rock-bottom $12 US a barrel last fall to around $40 today. (All prices are in American dollars. P.S. this column is not about the dreaded “differential” – it is concerned only with the actual price of heavy oil.) We all know the pipelines carrying our oil are full.  Our oil storage capacity – those great big tank farms we see around the Strathcona County refineries and elsewhere along our oil pipelines – is once again filling up. If the pipelines are full, the storage tanks ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The great challenge confronting Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 26, 2019

Alberta United Conservative leader Jason Kenney on election night at Big Four Roadhouse on the Stampede grounds in Calgary on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.Darren Makowichuk / DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS As the election euphoria fades, here’s what Premier-Elect Jason Kenney is up against. Multi-generational Albertan families, for the first time, are seriously considering their futures in what once was a land of milk and honey. Our province’s great natural resources are under unrelenting attack. Author David Yager fittingly named his recent book on Alberta’s future,  “Miracle to Menace.” The urban latte-drinking crowd are convinced that a climate-change Armageddon is at hand, unless — damn all those who feed their families from oil-patch jobs — fossil fuel-burning is  banned from this Earth. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Being anti-oilsands is so trendy, so stylish. National Geographic Magazine just published ANOTH ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The industrial hinterlands will save Edmonton’s bacon By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 18, 2019

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney addresses supporters in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 16, 2019.Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS Around 9 p.m. on April 16 jubilant cheers emanated from all around Edmonton. But within the city, in the centre of the doughnut, nothing could be heard but the gnashing of teeth and moans of despair. Our good city dwellers — so many on the government payroll one way or another — gave 19 of 20 Edmonton ridings back to the New Democrats. On that same  night,  workers from the Nisku, Fort Saskatchewan and Acheson industrial parks, from the metal fabrication and natural-resource processing  plants, from the refineries, the pulp mills, the grain elevators and the farms gave 15 of 16 ridings in Edmonton’s industrial hinterland to Jason Kenney’s get-the-economy-moving UCP party. Rachel Notley and her progressive troops may have won in Edmonton,  but the Orange were crushed everywhere else. Final tally (save ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The Alberta election campaign that was By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun April 12, 2019

From left: Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney, Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel are seen Thursday at the leaders debate. Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS As Alberta finally heads to the polls on Tuesday, April 16, a last loving look backwards at this political campaign. And yes, these observations come from a pro-business point of view — this opinion column isn’t called “Hicks on Biz” for nothing. Like any fan of free enterprise, I believe in capitalism with a human face, in individual initiative over the collective. I believe human beings are generally better off if left alone, rather than subjected to the whims/over-taxation of the nanny state. I believe government’s primary role is to encourage a powerful economic engine, creating meaningful employment and the taxation necessary to support public social services, to help those truly in need. STORY CONTIN ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta election proof of civility's decline By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 5, 2019

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney.File / Postmedia Why has the rhetoric of fear and loathing crept deeply into this provincial election? There once was a deep journalism dictum. Criticize the action, not the person. Criticize what a person says or promotes, not the person himself/herself. The two main antagonists in this election, Premier Rachel Notley and opposition leader Jason Kenney, have more-or-less subscribed to this convention. They hammer at each other over policy differences but have not (yet) descended to personal attacks. STORY CONTINUES BELOW But both have allowed their campaigns to indulge in, to actually trumpet, personal attacks. The website thetruthaboutJasonKenney.ca, is a rabid, pit-bull personal attack on Kenney openly sponsored by the Alberta New Democrats. It’s the first highly-publicized “official&rdqu ... Read the rest of entry »
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