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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

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 »

Hicks on Biz: What will buying pot look like after it's legal? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, September 20, 2018

These are examples of the small containers in which legal, AGLC-approved cannabis will be sold in Alberta come October 17, 2018. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS Somehow I had this vision of Alberta’s new legal pot stores (as of October 17, 2018) being like a Bulk Barn, where you would scoop your favourite cannabis buds out of a bin, fill your baggie, weigh, pay at the cashier then home you’d go to roll joints. Nope, nope, nope. While we are soon to embark on the Wild West of legalized marijuana, this Wild West comes with rules as decreed by Health Canada, the province, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) and municipalities. I toured Alberta pot-retailer-in-waiting Fire & Flower’s concept store on Jasper Avenue West. This is no Bulk Barn.  It’s more like an Apple or a Nike store. Spotless, modern, art on the walls, display merchandising, no loose pot to be seen. Definitely no bins of pot buds. (The words cannabis, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Using a sledge hammer to squash a mosquito By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, September 14, 2018

The official opening of the Hyatt Place Downtown Edmonton, 9576 Jasper Ave., was held Monday Jan. 23, 2017.David Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Of course we need laws, bylaws rules and regulations. Their impartial administration and enforcement have made our country safe, secure and prosperous. But lately, Canada has been plagued by over-zealous regulation, regulation piled upon regulation. Regulation and rules that have little to do with encouraging entrepreneurship and wealth creation, everything to do with government as Big Brother, regulation for the sake of regulation. We have become a society more concerned with regulation than prosperity! When it comes to pipelines, an ultimate regulator — the Federal Court of Appeal — sided with a small group of protestors versus the economic well-being of the entire province of Alberta.  How does that work? Locally, over-zealous regulation has had severe, unforeseen consequences. In late August, Alberta Health Service ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Farewell economic diversity, hello resiliency By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, September 7, 2018

Derek Hudson took over as the new CEO of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation on Aug. 8, 2018.Greg Southam / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS I think I understand. Sorta. The new head of the Edmonton Economic Development (EEDC) – the city’s business development agency – wants to change the worn-out economic buzz word “diversity” to the more practical notion of “resiliency.” “Diversity is fine,” says Derek Hudson, just promoted from within the organization to take over the EEDC leadership reins from Brad Ferguson. “But the reality is most of our economic fortune is tied back to the price of oil and heavy industrial construction. “To be resilient is for the city to withstand the shocks that hit us – swings in commodity prices, geo-political (i.e. pipelines/tariffs); to work towards an economy that’s more balanced, to encourage sectors that work in different business cycles.” Ferguson was all abou ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Epcor’s river valley solar farm is a non-starter By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 31, 2018

 A rendering of the proposed solar farm at the E.L. Smith water treatment centre. This view is looking west from a recreational trail across the river. Epcor, supplied It is  impossible to see how Edmonton’s city council can support Epcor’s proposal to build a 45,000 solar-panel, multi-hectare solar-electricity facility … in the heart of the North Saskatchewan River Valley park system. Oh! It’s not Epcor’s proposal! It’s Edmonton city council’s proposal! With the weirdest of logic, our city council is willing to destroy the natural environment to save the atmospheric environment! Here’s why. The City of Edmonton owns Epcor. City vouncil is its ultimate board of directors. It’s city council, not Epcor, that insists the city-owned water/sewage utility falls in line with the city’s “green” policies, to produce at least 10 per cent of the power it uses from “local” renewable power sources. Can&rsqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 24, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.THE CANADIAN PRESS By GRAHAM HICKS Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart. Geographical regions are divided, First Nations’ groups are divided, governments are divided, political parties are divided, families are divided. In the past, almost all Canadians supported the great national projects that created today’s prosperity — the cross-Canada railroads, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the great hydro-electricity projects of B.C., Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland/Labrador. Today, Canada’s biggest potential prosperity-builder is construction of new or expanded pipelines and new ocean ports to export Western Canadian oil and natural gas to Eastern Canada, Asia, Europe and the USA. But these pipelines have become the central battleground, the symbolic line in the sand, between those convinced too much CO2 (from the burning of fossil fuels) is causing world-destroying global warming, a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The tyranny of the greater good By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 17, 2018

Oh city hall! When the mayor gets so mad that he publicly lambasts bureaucrats for inane decisions, like a “renewal fee” to keep family-purchased memorial plaques on park benches, you know the bureaucracy has run amok. Around city hall, “empowerment” has been in vogue. Empower middle management to make decisions without approvals from the upper ranks. Theoretically decisions and implementation will be sped up. Imagine the scenario. Deep in the bowels of the Department of City Services, a low-level management meeting is taking place. As always, junior managers are under pressure from the higher-ups to reduce spending and increase revenues.  A young minion at the meeting comes up with the idea of increasing income from park bench memorial plaques by introducing renewal fees … in the thousands of dollars! What a fine idea, the manager in charge of park bench revenues replies; a nice easy way of raising a few hundred thousand dollars! And thanks to “empow ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Raise a Glass to the Re-developers By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, Aug. 10, 2018

Developer Ivan Beljan poses for a photo in front of the now sold Strathcona Hotel at 10302 82 Avenue in Edmonton, on Friday, July 13, 2018. His company Beljan Development is planning a redevelopment of the historic building. Photo by Ian Kucerak/PostmediaIan Kucerak Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS An Edmonton renaissance is happening, under our very eyes. Hundreds of old buildings, most built between 1911 and 1915, are being “re-developed” by a new breed of developer. Re-development is much more than renovation. Old buildings are gutted, stripped down to their bones and re-built, but in a style respecting historical roots. It’s a beautiful thing: The Brighton Block, Strathcona Hotel, Williams Hall (the original downtown YMCA), Molson Brewery, Old Strathcona’s Crawford Block, Mercer Building, Gibbard Block (La Boheme), Substation 600 on 124 St, the Oliver Exchange, even the Camsell Hospital … the list of buildings being restored/re-built ... Read the rest of entry »
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