By Graham Hicks ,Edmonton Sun
First posted: Friday, February 24, 2012 05:10 PM MST | Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 05:13 PM MST

I’m sick and tired of Edmonton being Canada’s forgotten city.

Every time, on every national newscast, it’s about Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Where’s Edmonton in the national consciousness? Where’s our hustle and bustle?

Welcome to Hicks on Biz, the new weekly Edmonton Sun business column with one overriding objective — to let you, and the rest of the world, know that Edmonton is the most dynamic, fastest growing, best-quality-of-life, best-positioned-for-the-future city in Canada. And, if any of our cylinders aren’t firing as they should, constructive commentary will be offered to stay on course.

We’ll do this mainly through looking at Edmonton’s economy in cold, hard numbers.

Numbers can be manipulated, but they don’t lie. Nothing makes the case for prosperity like the number of jobs, amount of income, cost of housing and access to quality health care and education.

I love business. It’s at the heart of everything we do.

Without business, there are no jobs. Without jobs, no money. Without money, no taxes. Without taxes, no public spending.

Without public spending, there’s little quality of life and, so sorry teachers, nurses, and the Alberta Union of Public Employees, no taxpayer-funded jobs.

Some lefties argue we should be measuring “happiness” rather than economic success.

Fine, but I’d rather be “happy” with money than without!

By the numbers, Edmonton should be bursting with pride.

In the latest census, we are neck-and-neck with Calgary as Canada’s fastest growing metropolitan region.

(Hicks on Biz’s definition of “Edmonton” is “Greater Edmonton,” all the outlying cities and everybody in between. We are all in this together.)

Our population was barely one million in 2006. Today, we’re at 1.16 million … 160,000 more people.

If current trends continue, Edmonton and Calgary will pass Ottawa/Gatineau to be Canada’s fourth and fifth biggest cities by 2016.

Skilled immigrants and other Canadians are moving to Alberta’s capital region for the nitty-gritty — good jobs, good pay, affordable housing, good education and good health care.

We have ’em all.

The lowest rate of unemployment in all Canada. If you can’t get a job here …

Edmonton has the second-highest annual income per capita (over 18) in the country, at $49,409.82 cents. (For happiness, I’ll forgo the 82 cents.)

Yet our housing costs, averaging $323,000 for a bungalow and $373,000 for a detached two-storey, are the second lowest of Canada’s top six cities.

Globally, we’re a housing utopia. Virtually nowhere else can you get as much house for the incomes we make.

Teachers, take a bow. For 12 years, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Alberta has been the No. 1 region in the English-speaking world for quality of primary education. Our post-secondary institutions are among the best in Canada, and in the world.

This city bends over backwards to provide education to all. In this town, there’s no excuse for not having post-secondary training.

For all our bitching, and damning reports about health care, I cannot imagine any other locale on Earth where, regardless of income, there is such outstanding health care.

Are we oil-and gas dependent? Yes. If oil and gas extraction were to end tomorrow, our movers and shakers suggest the local economy could shrink by 50%.

Is oil and gas extraction going to end? No. Every global energy expert says oil and gas will be in demand for at least the rest of this century. Meanwhile, great technology — much of it made in Edmonton — is rapidly greening the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.

What ultimately matters is yours and my paycheque and therefore our quality of life. Sorry, lefties, it’s all about capitalism … with a human face.

If we take pride, celebrate what we have and keep talking about it. Soon it’ll be “Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, EDMONTON and Calgary”!