HicksBiz Blog

Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: The next 10 years are vitally important for Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, October 25, 2019

Hicks on Biz: The Conservatives will not win By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN October 18, 2019

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer.GEOFF ROBINS / AFP/Getty Images It looks like Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives will not win Monday’s election. A very accurate, independent and unbiased website – 338canada.com – brings together every bit of data gathered during this election and publishes a daily update. For every electoral riding in the country – all 338 of them (hence the website’s name),  338canada.com declares if the riding is, from among the four major political parties and independents, “safe”, “leaning”, “likely” or a “toss-up.” If the Conservatives do not lose a single seat they now hold, AND they take every seat from the other parties that 338canada.com says is leaning or likely to go Conservative, AND they win every seat that 338canada.com says is too close to call, the very best Scheer’s party could do is 127 seats, up from the current 95. Then there’s reality. Outside Alb ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The divisions in Canada grow ever deeper this election By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 10, 2019

Federal party leaders ready for debate: Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.POOL / REUTERS By GRAHAM HICKS As this uncomfortable federal election stumbles its way to Oct. 21, there’s early-warning signs of irreconcilable differences between provinces, between provinces and the federal government, between Canadians of different age groups, between regions within the country. All over Canada’s approach to climate change. As Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid so gloomily and accurately pointed out, four of the five federal party leaders have cast their lot, supporting policies that mean the end of oil and gas. The worst-case outcome of the federal election would be a Liberal minority government, kept in power in coalition with either the NDP or the Greens, both deeply opp ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Poland a big surprise By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 4, 2019

The historic Old Town of Warsaw, Poland, was rebuilt after being destroyed in the Second World War. GRAHAM HICKS...EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Before leaving on a September-long extended holiday in Poland – both as tourist and as a volunteer English teacher – I had no idea what shape the Central European country would be in. Three decades after the fall of communism, Poland has had 27 years of steady economic growth, an average 6% annual growth in family incomes. Yet our primordial impressions of Poland are still from Iron Curtain days: Of grime, grimness, hopelessness, poverty, garbage piled up in the streets, brown-outs and black-outs. Nothing could be further from the truth! Today, Poland is Europe’s biggest and best secret. As the ninth biggest country (by size) in Europe, with about the same population as Canada (38 million), it has fully emerged  from its shell-shocked recent history – the devastation of the Nazi occupation of the Second World War, with ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Get rid of the middle man By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN September 6, 2019

Chris LaBossiere, CEO of Yardstick. It was a rather jolly meeting — the Yellowhead Brewery event-pub quite packed, the beer flowing. All kinds of technology/biz folks were renewing acquaintances. The occasion was the release of a report commissioned by the Downtown Business Association, called Accelerating Tech in Downtown Edmonton. The get together had a right to its jolliness. As was detailed in a recent Hicks on Biz column, Edmonton’s technology/artificial intelligence/machine learning sector has, at long last, reached critical mass. Enough technology-based companies are now making enough money to significantly grow in scope and employment. That said, there’s an annoying Catch 22 to technology-innovation  business development. Every time something starts up, governments (or government-funded agencies) feel an overwhelming need to throw a whack of money at it. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Agencies are allegedly set up to assist these hard-working entre ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton real estate has not been kind By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN August 30, 2019

The average selling price for all Edmonton homes in March was $357,316, a drop of more than five per cent from $377,145 in March 2018.Postmedia, File / Perry Mah/QMI Agency By GRAHAM HICKS I am happy to be an Edmontonian. This is home. But Edmonton real estate has not been kind to homeowners. The average home in Edmonton is worth 6.8 per cent less today than was the case in 2014, five years ago. Had you moved to Vancouver or Toronto in 2014, bit the bullet, paid three times as much for the same house as you had in Edmonton … it would be worth 50 per cent to 60 per cent more today compared to its purchase price.  (All figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.) STORY CONTINUES BELOW Going back 10 years, according to the city’s annual market assessment, my Edmonton residence is worth 15 per cent more today than in 2010.  That’s a whopping 1.5 per cent average annual gain!  (Property and education taxes are up 35%, but that&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »