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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

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 »

Hicks on Biz: We live in disturbing times By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 6, 2019

The Edmonton skyline is visible through the falling snow as a lone pedestrian walks through McKinnon Ravine Park, in Edmonton Friday Nov. 29, 2019.David Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS We live in disturbing times. Deep sociological rifts and fractures head out every which way in our city – differences over climate change, educational philosophy, equality, progressive versus pragmatic opinions, debt management. At the same time, there’s growing intolerance of dissenting opinion, no matter how well-informed. Forgiveness and redemption, fundamental moral principles of all the great world religions, have been forgotten. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ten years ago, Don Cherry would have been reprimanded for his stupid remarks about immigrants not wearing poppies. But given the man’s  life-long support of good causes and his reputation as a proud, well-meaning Canadian, he might have been conditionally forgiven, “go forth and sin no more”. B ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Second Specs disrupts the eyeglass business By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, November 30, 2019

Second Specs' founders and partners Quy An, left, and Dr. Aaron Patel. Graham Hicks / Edmonton Sun In the business world, they’re called “disrupters,” companies that enter a business sector with a new technology or business model, making their products some combination of cleaner, greener, safer, faster and cheaper than those of the established companies. The established companies — especially in retail — are not happy campers. Before the disrupter came along, they were usually making a tidy profit with little risk. About six years ago, a kiosk opened in West Edmonton Mall close to the waterpark. It was called Second Specs. Second Specs has disrupted the Edmonton retail eye-glasses market. It offers new glasses at a price competitive with online companies, way cheaper than most walk-in Edmonton optical companies, provides personalized service … and can make and fit prescription lenses to a new frame within a half-hour. Second Specs is 100 pe ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton restaurateur putting restlessness to work By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, November 22, 2019

Brad Lazarenko of Culina to Go, one of the food-based tenants in the Oliver Exchange. Taken on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 in Edmonton.Greg Southam Greg Southam / 00086532A By GRAHAM HICKS If one thing is predictable about chef/businessman Brad Lazarenko, in the 30-plus years he has been active in Edmonton’s dining and food circles, it’s his unpredictability. He delights in left turns without signaling.  Once Lazarenko has launched and executed an interesting food concept, usually under his Culina kitchen brand, he’s thinking of his next move. Culina Mill Creek, Bibo Wine Bar, Passa Tempo in Osoyoos’ Spirit Ridge Resort, a wine bar in Nelson, B.C. a return to Edmonton to open Culina Muttart, the Culina Cantina in the downtown police station, helping his sister open Culina Highlands, catering, running the food outlets at the City of Edmonton golf courses, and now, his latest venture, the take-out-only  Culina To Go in Ivan Beljan’s newly renovated Olive ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Alberta farmers need to change the way they do business By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN November 15, 2019

Consultant Jerry Bouma warned regional leaders agriculture in the Edmonton region is close to a tipping point in his state of the industry report on agriculture at the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board meeting on Aug. 9, 2018.Elise Stolte / Postmedia, file Jerry Bouma is frustrated. The agricultural consultant, past Northlands president — when Northlands meant something — and now honourary consul for The Netherlands has long worked within Alberta’s $8.5-billion agriculture industry. Always a pragmatist and a realist, Bouma is worried. He says opportunity is slipping away in this province … at a time when the entire economic effort of Alberta should be in well-directed strategies to boost and modernize business sectors besides oil and gas, for obvious reasons. But he doesn’t see much happening. It’s as if the province has forgotten agriculture. November, for instance, used to be rural/farm awareness month In Edmonton, centred around the week-long C ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Who needs pipelines? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 8, 2019

(This is the last of a Hicks on Biz series on Alberta’s economic future if new pipelines are not built.) For decades, Alberta’s wealth was criticized for being harvested, 100%, from the low-hanging fruit of oil and gas extraction and processing. It was just too easy to make money from oil and gas. The sector scooped up every new engineer and scientist graduating from our universities, every skilled tradesperson coming out of our colleges. Eighteen-year-old dropouts were paid $1,500 a week to drive truck. The bloom is off that rose. Alberta’s future growth will be the result of technology-savvy entrepreneurs reaching for that higher-hanging fruit. But not entirely. As mentioned at the start of this series, oil isn’t going away. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Even without new pipelines, and with more oil-by-rail, oil production at a minimum will grow from 3.5 million barrels a day today to 4 million. Meanwhile, despite the persistent denial of climate-change extre ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Crossing the digital bridge By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, October 31, 2019

EDMONTON ALBERTA: OCTOBER 2, 2019. Alta-Fab Structures CEO Hank Van Weelden, left, and President Mark Taillefer stand inside one of their community ever trailers in Nisku Alberta, October 2, 2019. Jason Franson for PostmediaJASON FRANSON / PST By GRAHAM HICKS Public-sector unions scream at any suggestion their members shoulder some of Alberta’s economic pain. Interest groups go bonkers at the very thought of the provincial teat running dry. Never considered is the source of the wealth that pays the health care workers, the school custodians and subsidizes start-up companies. Which is — duh! — the taxes paid by thousands of small-to-medium sized  Alberta companies and their employees.  At least what’s left of those companies and their payrolls after the “right-sizing” of the past four years. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Alberta’s future well-being depends on the entrepreneurial will of those owner/operators. Put yourself ... Read the rest of entry »