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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: Is the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion for real? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, August 23, 2019

The Trans Mountain Corporation's Edmonton Terminal, Wednesday June 19, 2019.David_Bloom David Bloom / David Bloom/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Can we believe it? Believe the Trans Mountain Pipeline twinning project is actually going ahead? Can we believe, in three or four years, that the new pipeline will move our pent-up heavy oil production to overseas countries that need the stuff, where buyers will pay better prices than the American refineries who are our only customers at this time? Once complete, 590,000 more barrels of dilbit (diluted bitumen) a day will start to flow down the Trans Mountain’s second pipeline, adding 20% more pipeline capacity from the oil sands.  Which is huge. Certainly, it  feels like things are happening. Driving back to Edmonton on Hwy. 16 from Valemont, the highway was near clogged by dozens of big trucks, each hauling four to five mega-diameter lengths of pipe. This stuff was too big to be used for anything but the Trans Mountain project. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Political shenanigans are nothing new BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, August 16, 2019

Ralph Klein and his wife Colleen kiss after his speech kicking off the 1997 election campaign. Klein won the 1992 provincial election after That  Great Hack documentary is really causing a stir. Everybody’s talking about access, ownership and unauthorized mining of all that personal data floating around the Internet. A data analysis company, Cambridge Analytics, was hired by the Trump-for-President campaign in 2014. Thanks to some kind of relationship with Facebook, Cambridge analyzed members’ personal data without the permission of the individuals concerned. Millions of Facebook users, considered as potential swing voters in key states, were targeted with a stream of pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton ads on their Facebook feeds. Some political analysts, and certainly the documentary makers,  believe these tactics swung the election in Donald Trump’s favour. Cambridge used the same tools and techniques to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. I ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Rapid Cash innovating in a hurry By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: August 9, 2019

Bill Eaton puts his Easy Cash transaction kiosk through its paces. Photo by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS At your local bottle depot, or coming soon, is an automated payment system for your empties. Sorting and counting bottles remains a manual operation. But the worker keeps track on a screen that you can see. When he or she is done, a credit-card sized piece of plastic is handed to you … in which is embedded your refund. You mosey over to an ATM-like machine, but much bigger with a giant screen. The inserted plastic is read, the amount comes up on the screen. Out pops your cash … and the plastic card stays behind to be wiped and re-used. This is a major innovation in the field of “money processing.” It’s just the start and Edmonton-based Rapid Cash is leading the charge. “Think of what cellphones were capable of 10 years ago,” says Rapid Cash’s president and GM Bill Eaton. “And think of what smartphones can do today. That&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The JW Marriott benefits all Edmonton by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, August 2, 2019

Opening day of the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District hotel on 102 Street downtown. Photos of the presidential suite and the health club called Archetype on August 1, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia In the JW Marriott Lobby Bar, the ice cubes are infused with flavours … and hand-carved before being dunked into a fancy cocktail. “It elevates the visual appeal,” says bar manager Kyle Stefanato. This is not a column about ice cubes. This is a column about the economic impact the brand-new, just-opened, top-of-the-line  JW Marriott Hotel, its 346 rooms, two signature eateries, two beautiful lounges and the fanciest gym you have ever seen, will have on the downtown ICE District and on the city as a whole. The  hand-carved ice cubes are symbolic, a shining example of what the highest of high-end  hospitality is all about. The most immediate economic impact of the new hotel is the likelihood, the near certainty, that Edmonton wi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The world needs more Steve Laut By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: July 27, 2019

Executive Vice Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Steve Laut speaks at the TD Securities Calgary Energy Conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Todd Korol ORG XMIT: GGG-CAL1O1TODD KOROL / REUTERS Every Canadian teacher could do this country a huge favour by listening to most of a 36-minute podcast from the Arc Energy Research Institute. Entitled “An Interview with Steve Laut”, and found on the internet at  https://www.arcenergyinstitute.com/canadian-natural-resources-an-interview-with-steve-laut/, the podcast is a conversation between Canadian National Resources’ (CNRL) executive vice-chairman Laut and Calgary-based Arc Energy analysts Peter Tertzakian and Jackie Forrest. Tertzakian and Forrest are two of the most knowledgeable and best communicators/analysts in Canada’s energy sector. Laut, who heads up CNRL,  is arguably the most influential executive in Canadian oil and gas. Under Laut’s stewardship, CNRL has ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Former NAIT boss making his name in furniture By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 19, 2019

Former NAIT President Sam Shaw is applying his educational acumen to the furniture business. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS The Energizer Bunny is back. Sam Shaw made quite the name for himself and NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) when he headed up the educational institution for 13 years, from 1997 to 2010. He was here, there and everywhere – running and modernizing Alberta’s biggest post-secondary school,  chairing the city’s United Way campaign, being honourary colonel of the CFB Edmonton’s 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, chairing this committee, that committee, fund-raising for worthy causes. His imprint on the community was such that in 2004, Venture business magazine named him Alberta’s Business Person of the Year. Fast-forward nine years:  Shaw had moved his family to Calgary after his NAIT days, where he was vice president of policy development with the Encana energy company. But he now holds dual-city citizenship, for ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Admirable sentiment, wrong government By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 12, 2019

St. Albert Coun. Natalie Joly asked council to look at banning conversion therapy within its municipal boundaries.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS A little bit of this, a little bit of that … LET THE PROVINCE DEAL WITH SOCIAL ISSUES Why is St. Albert City Council passing rhetorical, unenforceable bylaws on social issues way outside of its jurisdiction, i.e. a ban on conversion therapy? It’s a fine sentiment . Nobody should be forcibly brainwashed into changing their sexual orientation. But it’s the wrong level of government. In Alberta, municipalities are responsible for maintaining and building civic infrastructure, transit, public safety and providing recreation/leisure facilities for their citizens. The province and the federal government are responsible for social issues. The creation and enforcement of laws dealing with discrimination, human rights (including sexual/gender preference and choice) and ethical decisions – such as legal suicide, or c ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: High-tech sector is finally catching fire BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 5, 2019

Richard Sutton, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and distinguished research scientist with Google DeepMind and professor of computer science with Amii, speaking during AccelerateAB, an annual technology convention at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on April 24, 2018.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia, file By GRAHAM HICKS I surrender. I capitulate. For the past decade, I have been skeptical about this high-tech, innovation, disruption, knowledge-based business “eco-system” allegedly being built in Edmonton. Show me the money! Show me the employment! Show me the University of Alberta computer science PhD students staying in Edmonton for career opportunities! Show me the office space leased to these companies! Well, after a decade of incubators, accelerators, tax breaks, government grants, interest-free loans and wheel-spinning, it is finally happening. In the last six months, some $40 million in venture capital from around the world has flowed into early-stage high-tech compan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Big changes in Jasper By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 28, 2019

Welcome to Jasper sign is seen on the east entrance to the National Park town. File photoTom Braid / Tom Braid/Edmonton Sun/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Does it matter who actually owns a well-known building, a shopping mall, a condo tower, a hotel? Not really. Usually it’s just Big Money being shuffled around – pension, insurance funds, major developers  – buying and selling to each other. Except for the exceptions. Jasper’s hotel ownership has just gone through its biggest shake-up ever. An entire culture is changing:  Jasper’s Mountain Park Lodges (MPL) chain, owned by the same group of Edmonton families for the past 50 years, has sold controlling interest (60%) in its seven hotels to hospitality company Pursuit. Pursuit, in turn, is a division of a global hotel/hospitality services company known as Viad Corporation, with $1.3 billion in revenues last year. Viad is a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Pursuit is actually a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Epcor river valley solar farm bandwagon? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 21, 2019

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.Supplied, Epcor By GRAHAM HICKS This past week, for two long afternoons, I was glued to my computer screen watching (at councilontheweb.edmonton.ca) Edmonton’s city council deal with Epcor’s application to build an enormous solar power farm, right beside its E.L. Smith water treatment plant in the river valley just north of the Henday Drive southwest bridge. The rationale is to provide “sustainable” power for the treatment plant. As a commentator, my own bias is clear. I deeply believe, as do most Edmontonians, that the river valley is a sacred public trust, a multi-kilometre stretch of uninterrupted, beautiful riverside parkland. No other city in the world has been so blessed. Other than essential infrastructure (i.e. water and waste-water services, bridges) no further industrial development should ever be allowed in the riv ... Read the rest of entry »
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