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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: Saving Edmonton, saving Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 14, 2020

Skyline taken from the airport control tower at the Blatchford Redevelopment in Edmonton, December 4, 2017.Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Two interesting reports will be coming forward in the next few weeks, one to Edmonton City Council, one to the Government of Alberta. Whoa, don’t let your eyes glaze over! Don’t give up on Hicks on Biz! Reports, however dry and horrible and impossible to read, can profoundly influence the economic well-being of our city and province. And never before has Edmonton/Alberta faced such crossroads as today. If there’s not ingenuity and leadership and innovation, we are going to see a continuing decline in our real estate prices. Our children and grandchildren will reluctantly leave Alberta for career opportunities elsewhere. A slow, steady decline in entrepreneurial spirit will infect the province, to a point, where, like too many parts of Canada, the big deal will be to get a government job and never let it go. STORY CONT ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Patience is a virtue By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 7, 2020

After 27 years, Dr. Robert Foster's drug developed at the U of A, Voclosporin, has been approved as a treatment for lupus kidney disease. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton In the modest south Edmonton office of his latest drug-development company, Dr. Robert Foster can now chuckle about the day in 2007 when his net worth crashed from $30 million to $250,000. The pharmaceutical scientist, businessperson and professor lost his fortune with the collapse of Edmonton-based drug company Isotechnica. The company had been formed to commercialize Voclosporin, an immunosuppression drug Foster had created with a team of University of Alberta scientists and medical researchers. Isotechnica was as good as gone, but Foster never lost faith in Voclosporin’s medical potential. Today, after an incredible 26-year tale involving the cold-hearted realities of the international drug-development world, politics, betrayal, drug regulation and a never-ending search for investment cash, Dr. Foster has been vindicat ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Metro Edmonton is a political mess By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 31, 2020

Edmonton's downtown skyline is seen from the Blatchford project site on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia A new regional report is urging the 13 towns, counties and cities of Greater Edmonton to get their acts together and set up a regional public transit service. Yes, a regional public transit system is way overdue, and, overall, is a good thing. Except, being government-driven and involving 13 municipalities, it will happen years later than planned, will cost twice as much as anticipated, will have far fewer riders than projected, and will not reduce the number of cars on the road. (Always unacknowledged in these reports is human nature. When it’s super cold outside half the year, anybody with the means will use a warm, comfortable, door-to-door car, not public transit.) I digress. The reason regional transit will take so long and be so inefficient is that — as with anything to do with Greater (or Metropolitan) Edmonton — 13 municipalities debate and mus ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Cannabis goes bust By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 24, 2020

Cannabis plants are shown at Sundial Growers facility in Olds.Dean Pilling / Postmedia It’s a business story as old as time. Canada’s cannabis green-gold rush has gone bust. It happened with Bre-X, with the dot.com bubble, with Nortel, with the American lending/real estate crash of 08-09. Everybody gets super-excited over one or two companies, or a sector. Investors pile in. Rationale goes out the window. The shares double, triple, quadruple in value. Buy, buy, buy! We’re rich!!!! And then it happens. Feast to famine. Hero to zero. The company cannot possibly produce the revenue to sustain such sky-high stock prices. The smart money starts to sell, the selling stampede starts, investors pile out. Usually the company (or companies) end up worthless and/or bankrupt. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Sadly, the stakes are higher in the Edmonton area. It’s not just a few thousand foolish folks who invested in cannabis companies without doing their research. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: You too can be successful in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 17, 2020

Skyline taken from the airport control tower at the Blatchford Redevelopment in Edmonton, December 4, 2017.Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Maybe this is not the best week to promote our dear but oh-so-cold city as a fine place to live and do business. But it’s true! A psychological turn-around is happening out there, backed by hard statistics. The “plus” factors of buying a business in Edmonton are now outweighing the negatives. A practical way of betting on a recovery of Northern Alberta’s economy is through the purchase of an existing business. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Many are for sale, mostly energy-related. The owners who started and grew them are ready to retire.  A 2017 EEDC (Edmonton Economic Development Corporation) report suggested 50 per cent of owners of independent companies in Greater Edmonton would sell in the next five years. Hundreds of these businesses, suggests Edmonton business consultant Aroo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: RAM Manufacturing — keeping it local By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 11, 2020

Out of Edmonton, Richard Meunier's RAM Elevators and Lifts manufacture and export 1,000 units a year. By GRAHAM HICKS The announcement came out in November. Located in the city’s west end, RAM Elevators and Lifts Manufacturing had been sold. It was not so much the sale of an independent manufacturing company, founded, operated and owned by lifelong Edmontonians Richard Meunier and his partner Sandy Smart, that was of interest. It was about the buyers. Aroon Sequeira and Corey Smith are among the city’s top businesspeople, business leaders and business thinkers. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Sequeira heads up Sequeira Partners, a financial advisory company focused on helping oilfield servicing companies be bought and sold. Smith was the president, CEO and minority partner in oilsands camp operator Noralta Lodge. He steered that company from a value of minus-$50 million (following the 2014/15 oil crash) to its sale in 2018 to former competitor Civeo Canada for $420 milli ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why another oilsands surface mine? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 3, 2020

From left, Kyran Auger, of Keepers of the Water, Bonwen Tucker, Oil Change International, Batul Gulamhusein of Climate Justice Alberta and Nigel Henri Robinson with Beaverhillls Warriors held a press event to call on the Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to reject the proposal and recommended approval of the Teck Frontier Mine in Northern Alberta on November 22, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why would the Alberta government be so damned stupid as to propose another surface mine in the oilsands? No matter the science, the optics stink. Yet another vast, oily, tailings pond, huge intrusions into Mother Earth, vast disruptions of the beaver, the fox, the bear and the caribou. All the oilsands stuff that the Rest of Canada hates … and many Albertans are equally uneasy about. The federal Liberal government is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To that end, its core political support is near 100 per cent in ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is it possible? A real economic recovery for Alberta? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 27, 2019

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project pipe is on the ground near Highway 60 and 628, and will be in the ground before Christmas as an event was held to mark the start of right-of-way pipeline construction just west of Edmonton Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia The great oil crash of 2014/15 sent Alberta’s economy reeling into the ropes. Ever since, as our champ staggered back to its feet, pow! Along would come another blow. Climate change – stop the pipelines! Bash! A provincial NDP government – blame the rich! Spend, spend, spend! Pfffttt! The federal government’s ecological love song – death to the carbon-based economy! Bam! STORY CONTINUES BELOW Heading into the 2020s, the kid is pretty bloodied up and still on its knees. But it’s about to stand up. Its energy is returning. It’s gaining ground, a counter punch here, a jab there, gaining some momentum. The debate over climate change is slowly moving from ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: The University of Alberta’s next big thing By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 20, 2019

University of Alberta experimental oncologist Dr. John Lewis may revolutionize the targeted delivery of medicines /therapies to the human body at a nano-level. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS This is a dumb analogy, but it’s as good a way as any to envision might be the biggest scientific breakthrough coming out of the University of Alberta since Dr. Lorne Tyrell’s vaccine for hepatitis C, or the medical team that developed the Edmonton Protocol for reversing severe diabetes. University of Alberta experimental oncologist Dr. John Lewis has worked on “delivery platforms” at the nano scale — i.e. incredibly tiny — to carry drugs or gene therapies to exactly where they are supposed to go in the body in a safe and timely manner. The dumb analogy? Consider the delivery platform to be Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker and his X-wing fighter, attacking the mighty but diseased Death Star molecule: Finding, attacking, gaining entry, and deeply penetrating ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The spirit of giving By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 13, 2019

About 40 volunteers packed 1,300 hampers, on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, for the Christmas Bureau in the gym of St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School for delivery to families in need.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Ever since Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published in Great Britain in 1843, the story of cold-hearted businessman Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas Eve conversion from miser to philanthropist (with the help of a few ghosts) has served as a model for Christmas conscience and charity. So here we are, Christmas season 2019. The problem, truly a First World problem, is the sheer volume of the “asks.” Any charity of any size has a “development” department, that, as often as not, contracts with marketing firms to bombard donors and would-be donors with e-mails, snail mail, telemarketing and social media inserts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Many of us have become literally afraid to give. If a charity snares your emai ... Read the rest of entry »
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