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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: My platform if I ran for council BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2017

If I were running for Edmonton’s city council on Oct. 16, this would be my back-to-basics platform. City council’s first responsibility should be to the taxpayer, not the frivolous tax-user. Cleanse city council of “progressive” multi-million-dollar vanity projects, such as over-built bike lanes (never has so much been spent on so few, with so little in return). Bring fiscal conservativism back in favour. How can city council save taxpayers’ money, not spend it? Property taxes only provide enough money to maintain public infrastructure (roads, bridges, parks), to provide excellent police, fire and transit services. Leave the funding of social services — culture, social housing, social programs, recreational programs, libraries, etc. — to the provincial government with its much broader tax base. I love the Edmonton Public Library, but it should be funded from the provincial purse. Aim for true carbon reduction. The purchase of new city buses, for instanc ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on biz: Cheers to Alberta's oilsands! BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

I once interviewed former Edmonton mayor Steve Mandel, just as he was considering running for mayor. It was a ho-hum interview, not much to remember. But he made one point I will never forget. “Doesn’t matter how much the city’s economy grows,” he said, using his hands to make a widening circle. “If there’s any contraction,” he said, bringing his hands closer together, “no matter what, it’s going to hurt like hell.” No truer words have ever been said. Which is why most of us are mystified by the non-negotiable, end-of-fossil-fuel stance espoused by many in our midst. These environmental “progressives” are willing to risk a major drop in Alberta’s standard of living by ending our major industry … no matter how minimal its contribution to global warming may be. Here we are, celebrating 50 years since the opening of the first commercial oilsands mine in Fort McMurray. The Sun’s excellent six-part series on the oilsan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is it time for a taxpayer revolt? BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are learning the hard way. Do not upset the little ol’ ladies. In one of the most remarkable missteps of modern Canadian politics, even the little ol’ ladies are spitting mad at this government’s proposed tax reforms. Ninety-two-year-old Nancy Power, an active (and powerful) federal Liberal party member all her life, has cancelled her party membership in protest. A now-retired independent business woman, Nancy used funds generated from investments within her Canadian professional corporation as her retirement fund. With the proposed tax changes, “they are going to take away 73% of my income,” says Power, “and that’s criminal.” Justin and Bill have been run over by an unforeseen truck. They thought they were simply carrying on with the Liberal election promise of helping the middle-class by more fair taxation of the top 1% of Canadian income-earners. Somebody forgot t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: La Ronde retro throwback BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

La Ronde Restaurant - Retro Thursday menu,  Chateau Lacombe Hotel, 24th floor, 10111 Bellamy Hill 780-428-6611 Chateaulacombe.com Tuesday to Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays (Retro-Thursday menu available Thursdays only.) Three-course Retro-Thursday dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: $132 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns   It’s a fun idea and timely too. For the last few months, Edmonton’s No.1 viewpoint restaurant La Ronde at the top of the Chateau Lacombe Hotel has featured a Retro Thursday three-course menu. On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, the Chateau Lacombe will celebrate its 50th anniversary. When the hotel’s doors opened in 1967, it was considered the best thing in Edmonton since sliced bread. If you’d been a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teenager taken by your family to dine at the swanky revolving La Ronde that first year, you m ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Family looms large in Stagewest's 75-year legacy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017

Family-owned-and-operated companies can be happy, healthy places moving nimbly around the feet of staid, mega-sized publicly-traded corporations. For 75 years and three generations, the Pechet family’s Stagewest Hospitality has played and prospered in Alberta. From hotels to restaurants, dinner theatres, casinos, land development, First Nation partnerships, travel agents and now a British Columbia winery, Stagewest has happily danced from hospitality opportunity to opportunity, buying at the bottom, selling at the top. No Pechets, however, currently live in Edmonton. Stagewest Hospitality’s third-generation CEO and President Jason Pechet is based in Calgary. Second-generation Howard Pechet, now semi-retired, has lived in San Diego but done business in Alberta since 1989. He moved his family to that city after Stagewest Hospitality’s flagship Mayfield Inn was sold to Alberta lumber baron Al Owen. Stagewest owns the Violino Gastronomia Italiana restaurant here, plus Mayfield Travel ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A Little of This, a Little of That BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2017

A few small business/money related stories, each capable of being much bigger... OILSANDS RE-TOOLING Operating and capital costs in the oilsands have been reduced by a most impressive 30% since the Great Oil Price Crash of 2014, thanks to full-press utilization of cleaner, greener, safer, faster, cheaper technologies, plus more productivity per worker and wages coming back down to earth. How ironic that low oil prices have spurred these innovations, as beneficial to the environment as they are to the economy. Innovation was slow as molasses during the oilsands’ pre-2014 glory years – why look for efficiencies when there was so money to be made? The current slow recovery of the Alberta economy is likely more about the retooling within the non-renewable energy sector (and the re-building of Fort McMurray after last year’s fire) than any other business. But more bad news for oilsands labour is coming. As is happening in mining operations the world over, within two to three years, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Utility bills are a crock of confusion BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 2017

When my latest Enmax utilities bill arrived, I went on Facebook with my concerns. The monthly energy costs for my house, for June, were dirt cheap — $20.05 for electricity, $7.19 for natural gas. But the other costs, exquisitely detailed, seemed outrageous in comparison. Another $57.48 for other electricity costs, being the administration, distribution, transmission, balancing pool allocation, rate riders and Edmonton local access fees. An extra $66.57 for other natural gas costs: Administration charge, transaction fee, fixed delivery charge, variable delivery charge, rate riders, municipal franchise fee … and the dreaded carbon levy. Why, I asked on Facebook, so much billing gobbledygook? Are we being hosed? Is it meant to hopelessly confuse the customer, so we shrug our shoulders and pay? These complex bills have been around for 10 years. Yet the Facebook reaction was astounding. Some 60 comments ricocheted back, along with hundreds of likes. “A crock of confusion &he ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Cold Lake an example of Alberta pain BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, AUGUST 04, 2017 08:58 AM

“The environmental agenda has hijacked Alberta’s resource industry and our politicians,” wrote Craig Copeland, one of many readers responding to last week’s Hicks on Biz column entitled “Alberta’s economic suicide.” “It gained traction in the early 2000s but has escalated lately with the new provincial and federal governments,” Copeland continued, “even though Alberta already had some of the strictest industrial environmental policies in the world. I fear we could be witnessing one of the greatest economic tragedies in Canadian history.” Just another redneck opinion to be ignored, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her advisers would likely say. The current New Democrat government appears to put a higher priority on its climate change action plan than on the dismal state of the provincial economy, everywhere other than Edmonton. Copeland, however, is no redneck. He’s the long-time mayor of Cold Lake, one of Alberta’s more ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta’s economic suicide BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017

Will Albertans continue to sit on our hands and do nothing while national and provincial politicians - goaded by a vocal minority - plunge this province, and all Canada for that matter, into what is politely termed "de-industrialization" but ought to be called economic suicide? Are desperately needed new pipelines to carry the lifeblood of the Canadian economy - oil and gas - never to be built? Earlier this week, any thought of exporting Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia died when the proposed $36 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project was declared dead by its principal backer, Malaysia's Petronas oil company. Goaded by environmental groups, Canadian governments piled delay upon regulatory delay upon this and other major energy projects. By the time the NorthWest LNG project was actually approved, Asian demand for natural gas was being met by Australian and American LNG exporters. Canadian LNG is considered no longer economically viable on world markets. The companies and the investors behi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Local bakery grows into gluten-free juggernaut BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2017

How did a tiny Old Strathcona bakery become North America’s second-biggest producer of gluten-free baked goods? Ten semi-trailers a week roll out of Kinnikinnick Foods’ mega-bakery just off the Yellowhead Trail, bound for 65 distribution warehouses and 15,000 grocery stores.  Simultaneously, Kinnikinnick loads its gluten-free bread, cookies, donuts, buns and bagels onto giant pallets heading to Europe on KLM’s non-stop flight to Amsterdam. A distributor whisks the pallets to Kinnikinnick’s British distribution centre.  An Internet-sales office handles online orders, ensuring quick delivery the world over. How did Kinnikinnick overcome distance-to-market and labour costs?  How did the company succeed in a world of highly competitive corporate food giants?  It currently has 160 employees and grosses over $25 million a year in sales.   Why does it make all its products in Edmonton? Why hasn’t the Bigam family cashed out and sold Kinnikinnic ... Read the rest of entry »
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