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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: Good projects if we can afford them By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun December 7, 2018

The JW Marriott hotel in the Edmonton Ice District reaches into the clouds on March 19, 2018.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia, file By GRAHAM HICKS Enough of this pipeline doom ‘n’ gloom! ‘Tis time to be a tad optimistic about Edmonton’s future.  (I’ll try to be optimistic. In my heart of hearts, I am dead worried about the future of my children in this province.) Three major land-use projects are underway in the downtown. If properly done, prudently funded, they should gently contribute to the city’s economic wellbeing and quality of life. The one I like best — the Central Warehouse Park — is well underway. The City of Edmonton is creating a big (1.4 acres — about a square city block) new, traditional city park in the downtown. It’s north of Jasper Avenue, from 106 Street to halfway between 107 and 108 Streets. Think of the surface parking lots behind the big Boston Pizza building (at Jasper and 106 Street), behind Audr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: How much more can Alberta’s government spend? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 30, 2018

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley (Right), United Conservatives leader Jason Kenney (Left) By GRAHAM HICKS What in God’s name is this spend-until-we’re-bankrupt socialist Alberta government doing, announcing a purchase of $350 million worth of railroad oil tankers to move an extra 120,000 barrels of dilbit (diluted bitumen oil) a day – about 4% of Alberta’s current daily oil output? Look – we all knew the oilsands crisis was going to happen, as sure as night follows day. And now the day of reckoning has arrived. Oilsands production has grown. New extraction plants started before the 2014 oil-price collapse are now on stream. The ability to move additional oil from Fort McMurray via pipeline, as has been explained ad nauseum, has not. The smart oil-patch money knew this would happen. They knew the soft and wishy-washy Justin Trudeau federal government, for political reasons, would passively allow this economic crisis to happen. The smart oil-patch money – l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Stop the Spending! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 23, 2018

Premier Rachel Notley speaking at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta at the Shaw Conference Centre on November 20, 2018 in Edmonton.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By Graham Hicks FINALLY! In Calgary, the taxpayers finally spoke with a loud, clear voice. No Olympic bid! We can’t afford it! For once, the madness of profligate government spending has been curbed. The irresistible attraction of politicians like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to firmly fix their fingers around glittering baubles with no realistic return has been thwarted. Imagine! Spending unnecessary millions/billions when Calgary’s commercial tax base has dried up due to half-empty office towers, when Calgary has such a high unemployment rate — not necessarily among the lesser-skilled, but also of skilled professionals. Imagine!  This drowning-in-debt New Democrat party, that will govern Alberta for at least the next six months, was prepared to spend yet another $700 million (that it did not have) ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Century Park reboots by GRAHAM HICKS first published Edmonton Sun, November 16, 2018

In 2017, after extensive negotiations/discussions with city planners, city council approved a revised Century Park master plan, reflecting current urban trends with more, but smaller apartment units.Elise Stolte, Postmedia Network Two-parts businessman, one-part dreamer. You don’t know him, but the fingerprints of George Schluessel, president and CEO of real-estate development company ProCura and the new Optown, are all over Edmonton. ProCura is behind the re-boot of the 42-acre, 4,000-unit Century Park urban village, snugged in beside the LRT’s southwest terminal. By comparison, downtown Edmonton has 10,000 apartments/condos. ProCura is now building Central Tower, the fifth of up to 10 architecturally impressive residential towers within Century Park’s grand urban plan. Downtown, ProCura has transformed Jasper Avenue and 109 Street, re-fitting and re-imagining the once-aging Associated Engineering Tower (now WSP Place) and the gleaming black Intact office building. Two new ProC ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: MIA MLAs, oil investment and a little bit of this 'n' that BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 9, 2018

Robyn Luff, MLA for Calgary-East poses for a photo in her Calgary office on Aug. 20, 2018.Al Charest/Postmedia DOES ANYBODY KNOW THESE PEOPLE? When the Alberta NDP government was elected in May of 2015, the same question reverberated through business circles.  “Does anybody KNOW any of these people?” Outside of their own constituencies, you still hardly see or hear from those NDP MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) who are not cabinet ministers. Representing Metropolitan Edmonton constituencies for the NDP are Erin Babcock, Jon Carson, Estefania Cortes-Vargas, Lorne Dach, Nicole Goehring, Trevor Horne, Jessica Littlewood, Rod Loyola, Annie McKitrick, Chris Nielsen, Marie Renaud, Heather Sweet, Bob Turner and Denise Woollard. Does anybody even recognize their names? The only non-ministerial Edmonton NDP MLA with any kind of public profile is Edmonton Centre’s David Shepherd! Now we know why. Calgary MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the NDP caucus for spilling confidenti ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Not much in it for Alberta on LNG approval By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 2, 2018

Rendering of the North West side of the LNG Canada.Supplied / LNG Canada By GRAHAM HICKS Congrats to British Columbia. But is that the sound of one-hand clapping? It looks like the $40 billion – that’s BILLIONs, not MILLIONs – LNG Canada project/port is going  ahead. At least all the permits and processes and environmental this ‘n’ thats have been approved. LNG Canada will build a mega-specialized transfer port at Kitimat – in the same general region as Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast – to receive  natural gas through as yet-unbuilt-but-approved pipelines from the Montney natural gas fields of northeastern B.C. The gas shipped to the Kitimat plant will be super-cooled to the point of liquification, pumped into specialty LNG tankers and transported across the Pacific Ocean to countries where natural gas prices are five times higher than in North America. Thanks to new drilling and extraction technologies, Canada and the ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Growing high-tech companies takes time By GRAHAM HICKS, first published September 28, 2018

The city skyline, in Edmonton Alta. on Tuesday May 10, 2016. Photo by David Bloom ... Stock photo STK skylineDavid Bloom / Postmedia Network By GRAHAM HICKS Edmonton’s high-tech companies often receive gobs of publicity when they are new-born, touted by government-funded economic development agencies as can’t-miss companies with breath-taking new technology. The expectation is of instant success. The reality is most new, innovative companies face 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, are chronically short of investment cash, barely make their payroll and take two steps back for every three steps forward. Everybody is looking for the next Microsoft, Apple or Amazon. That’s not going to happen.  For most start-up companies, on-going success is A) not going out of business,  B) being a sound, small business generating $3 to $5 million in revenues a year, making a niche product with 10 to 50 employees, and C) if a company does shut down, its principal partne ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: What will buying pot look like after it's legal? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, September 20, 2018

These are examples of the small containers in which legal, AGLC-approved cannabis will be sold in Alberta come October 17, 2018. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS Somehow I had this vision of Alberta’s new legal pot stores (as of October 17, 2018) being like a Bulk Barn, where you would scoop your favourite cannabis buds out of a bin, fill your baggie, weigh, pay at the cashier then home you’d go to roll joints. Nope, nope, nope. While we are soon to embark on the Wild West of legalized marijuana, this Wild West comes with rules as decreed by Health Canada, the province, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) and municipalities. I toured Alberta pot-retailer-in-waiting Fire & Flower’s concept store on Jasper Avenue West. This is no Bulk Barn.  It’s more like an Apple or a Nike store. Spotless, modern, art on the walls, display merchandising, no loose pot to be seen. Definitely no bins of pot buds. (The words cannabis, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Using a sledge hammer to squash a mosquito By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, September 14, 2018

The official opening of the Hyatt Place Downtown Edmonton, 9576 Jasper Ave., was held Monday Jan. 23, 2017.David Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Of course we need laws, bylaws rules and regulations. Their impartial administration and enforcement have made our country safe, secure and prosperous. But lately, Canada has been plagued by over-zealous regulation, regulation piled upon regulation. Regulation and rules that have little to do with encouraging entrepreneurship and wealth creation, everything to do with government as Big Brother, regulation for the sake of regulation. We have become a society more concerned with regulation than prosperity! When it comes to pipelines, an ultimate regulator — the Federal Court of Appeal — sided with a small group of protestors versus the economic well-being of the entire province of Alberta.  How does that work? Locally, over-zealous regulation has had severe, unforeseen consequences. In late August, Alberta Health Service ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Farewell economic diversity, hello resiliency By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, September 7, 2018

Derek Hudson took over as the new CEO of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation on Aug. 8, 2018.Greg Southam / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS I think I understand. Sorta. The new head of the Edmonton Economic Development (EEDC) – the city’s business development agency – wants to change the worn-out economic buzz word “diversity” to the more practical notion of “resiliency.” “Diversity is fine,” says Derek Hudson, just promoted from within the organization to take over the EEDC leadership reins from Brad Ferguson. “But the reality is most of our economic fortune is tied back to the price of oil and heavy industrial construction. “To be resilient is for the city to withstand the shocks that hit us – swings in commodity prices, geo-political (i.e. pipelines/tariffs); to work towards an economy that’s more balanced, to encourage sectors that work in different business cycles.” Ferguson was all abou ... Read the rest of entry »