It’s proving to be a lively summer on the Ross Street Patio
By Mark Weber
With the new designation of being an Entertainment District, there’s an exciting new vibe resonating across Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio.
Earlier this year, City council approved Entertainment District status for the Patio, meaning that the Ross Street Patio is now a place where adults can consume alcohol outside of a licensed premises while taking in various forms of live entertainment. Prior to the May 24th council meeting, City administration determined a new bylaw was needed to support the DBA’s request and sought direction from council before proceeding.
According to the City, Entertainment Districts are new to the province, having been created last December through an amendment to the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act. “We are getting brilliant feedback – it has been so well-received,”
explained Amanda Gould, the DBA’s executive director. There have been no issues either, she added, pointing out that folks have been responsible and simply enjoying the option to have a drink while listening to artists perform on the Patio each week. “They’re having a drink, they’re getting rid of their garbage, and then they are on their way. It’s been absolutely brilliant – it’s been a dream. “It’s great to be able to offer this to people who come downtown.”
Gould has also noted that the designation would help to further revitalize the downtown core by drawing more folks down to not only check out the entertainment that is running on the Patio all summer, but to also see all that downtown ultimately has to offer.
Business owners have also been saying it’s been a positive move. “Tribe, in particular, on Canada Day saw a 30 per cent increase in sales.”
The regular performances are also proving a major draw this summer. “We get people of so many different walks of life coming down to see them – it’s so interesting to watch the Patio right now. We get in at half past eight, and then you go around the corner to look at the Patio to check and make sure everything is good as we do every morning. People are outside City Roast having coffee, sitting on the picnic benches, having their breakfast, or just sitting down to have a chat – it’s just lovely to see. And then it gets full on the days that we have the entertainment going on.”
Thursday and Friday performances run from 12 – 1:30 p.m. with Wednesday performances going from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. “Wednesdays continue to be our best day as we have the market going on then, too.”
Visitors are invited to come down and purchase all their fresh fruits and veggies between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday.
The annual car boot sale will soon be happening as well – they will be on Wednesdays also, she added. “Wednesdays are ‘the day’,” she added with a laugh.
According to the DBA’s website, “Load up your car, truck, or van with any items from your house that you wish to sell (or that you would normally put out in a garage sale) and come down to Little Gaetz Avenue for the Downtown Red Deer Car Boot Sale.” Pre-registration & payment required for those wishing to sell.
And to top of the celebratory spirit, a special limited-edition beer created by Sawback Brewing specifically for the Patio has proven to be a hit as well. “People love it,” said Gould, adding the beer – available at several downtown restaurants – will be available through the summer. The musical performances and the market both run through to the early fall.
For more about the Downtown Business Association and all that is planned for the Ross Street Patio, find them on Facebook or visit www.downtownreddeer.com.
‘War of the states’: EV, chip makers lavished with subsidies
Workers prepare the site of a $4 billion Panasonic EV battery plant Thursday, March 30, 2023, near DeSoto, Kan. Economic incentives offered by Kansas state and local governments beat out those offered by neighboring Oklahoma to help lure the project to the site on land formerly occupied by an Army ammunition plant. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
By Marc Levy in Harrisburg
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — States are doling out more cash than ever to lure multibillion-dollar microchip, electric vehicle and battery factories, inspiring ever-more competition as they dig deeper into their pockets to attract big employers and capitalize on a wave of huge new projects.
Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas have made billion-dollar pledges for a microchip or EV plant, with more state-subsidized plant announcements by profitable automakers and semiconductor giants surely to come.
States have long competed for big employers. But now they are floating more billion-dollar offers and offering record-high subsidies, lavishing companies with grants and low-interest loans, municipal road improvements, and breaks on taxes, real estate, power and water.
“We’re in the second war of the states,” said John Boyd, a principal at the Florida-based Boyd Company, which advises on site selections. “That’s how competitive economic development is between the states in 2023.”
The projects come at a transformative time for the industries, with automakers investing heavily in electrification and chipmakers expanding production in the U.S. following pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that raised economic and national security concerns.
One of the driving forces behind them are federal subsidies signed into law last summer that are meant to encourage companies to produce electric vehicles, EV batteries, and computer chips domestically. Another is that states are flush with cash thanks to inflation-juiced tax collections and federal pandemic relief subsidies.
The number of big projects and the size of state subsidy packages are extraordinary, said Nathan Jensen, a University of Texas professor who researches government economic development strategies.
“It is kind of a Wild West moment,” Jensen said. “It’s wild money and every state seems to be in on it.”
Good Jobs First, a nonprofit that tracks and is critical of corporate subsidies, said 2022 set a record for the number of billion-dollar-plus incentive deals. At least eight were finalized, though that figure might be higher since such deals can be cloaked in secrecy and take time to come to light.
Eighteen of last year’s 23 known “megadeals,” in which state and local incentive packages to private companies exceeded $50 million in value, were for semiconductor and EV plants, according to the group’s data.
More than $20 billion in public money was committed to subsidizing those known megadeals, according to Good Jobs First data. That total eclipsed the previous record of $17.7 billion that was committed to subsidizing such deals in 2013.
Many of the companies drawing the biggest subsidy offers — such as Intel, Hyundai, Panasonic, Micron, Toyota, Ford and General Motors — are profitable and operate around the globe. Some lesser-known names in the nascent EV field are getting big offers too, such as Rivian, Volkswagen-backed Scout Motors and Vietnamese automaker VinFast.
The subsidy offers are generally embraced by politicians from both major parties and the business elite, who point to promises of hundreds or thousands of jobs, massive investments in construction and equipment, and what they contend are immeasurable trickle-down benefits.
Still, academics who study such subsidies find them to be a waste of money and rarely decisive in a company’s choice of location.
In a 2021 paper arguing that subsidies are driven by politicians for their own benefit, researchers from The Citadel, the College of Charleston and the University of Louisville-Lafayette wrote that studies conclude “they do little, if anything, to promote meaningful improvements in economic outcomes.”
The mounting cost of competing for the projects hasn’t dissuaded states from trying. On the contrary, they’re clambering to outdo each other.
Michigan was stung by hometown Ford’s $11.4 billion commitment in 2021 to build electric vehicle and battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky. It responded by pledging more than $2.5 billion for electric-vehicle projects by Ford and GM and plants by makers of EV batteries and battery components.
Pennsylvania has yet to lure a microchip or EV factory, and the state’s business elite are sounding the alarm after watching neighboring Ohio land a $20 billion Intel plant.
In his first budget speech to lawmakers, newly inaugurated Gov. Josh Shapiro said Pennsylvania needs to “get in the game” and warned that it would take money.
Jabbing a finger in the air, he brought the room to a standing ovation, saying: ”It’s time to compete again here in Pennsylvania!”
Oregon lawmakers hoping to attract a major semiconductor plant are advancing legislation that would marshal $200 million in subsidies and loosen decades-old protections against urban sprawl.
The aim is to procure huge plots of land with ready-made utilities. That has elicited protests from conservationists who say the state mishandled developable land and agricultural groups that warned of the permanent destruction of high-quality farmland.
Dick Sheehy, a retired site selection consultant who traveled the world to inspect possible locations for semiconductor makers, told a panel of Oregon lawmakers in January that states are tipping the scales over better-qualified competitors by offering larger incentive packages.
“The money the state is putting up is so large that certain companies can’t afford not to look at it,” Sheehy said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott promised to win passage of “economic development tools” during the current legislative session, saying the state lost out on a massive Micron semiconductor plant because it couldn’t match the $5.5 billion in tax credits offered by New York.
“The CEO of Micron was basically begging me because he really wanted to do business in Texas. He knew Texas was a better place. He said, ‘Please could you come up with some more?'” Abbott told a Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce crowd in February. “We gave every penny that we could give.”
Asked about Abbott’s assertions, Micron declined to address Abbott’s description of the phone call with CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, but it called New York the most competitive state and listed reasons why it is the “ideal home” for its plant.
Those included a compelling case made by top officials — including Gov. Kathy Hochul and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer — plus an attractive local workforce, local research and development partners, and a good quality of life for employees.
In Oklahoma, frustration among lawmakers has been bubbling over since the state lost out on a string of projects: first a Tesla plant to Texas, then a Panasonic EV battery plant to Kansas and, just days ago, a Volkswagen EV battery plant to Canada.
That latest loss led state Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat to create a committee to figure out what went wrong in Oklahoma’s bidding for a “megaproject.”
Business-friendly Oklahoma shouldn’t keep losing out to other states, Treat said.
“You never know if you’re being used so they can go to that other state so they can say, ‘Hey, Oklahoma is willing to do this,’” Treat said in an interview. “And they intend on going to that state the whole time.”
Associated Press writers Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.
Ottawa is going all in on ‘friendshoring.’ Here’s what that could mean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 27, 2023. Economists and geopolitical experts say this week’s federal budget is confirmation that the Trudeau government sees the future of Canadian trade as relying more on allied countries, even if it is results in more expensive goods. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
By Dylan Robertson in Ottawa
This year’s budget reveals the federal Liberals envision Canada relying more on its allies for trade in the future, economists and geopolitical experts say — even if that could result in higher prices or missed opportunities.
“It’s a reframing,” University of British Columbia professor Vina Nadjibulla said after the budget’s release this week. “It’s essentially saying what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years of engagement is over.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen coined the term “friendshoring” a year ago, saying allies should rely on each other to make supply chains more resilient, and defang hostile actors from taxing or withholding goods.
The Liberals have sent mixed messages in the past year on the extent to which they agree with that approach. Last October, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada was “decoupling” from China, but days later Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she wanted to “re-establish ties” with Beijing.
The language in the federal budget paints a clearer picture. But some experts warn that the us-versus-them language means Canadian businesses will need to adjust in order to avoid losing out on opportunities with the developing world.
Nadjibulla, speaking at a Wednesday panel held by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute in Ottawa, said Tuesday’s budget contains the government’s clearest articulation yet of where the world is now.
“The language there is that it is a more dangerous world and a more competitive world. And in that world, Canada needs to deepen its connections with its allies,” she said.
Specifically, the document says trading with other democracies prevents “economic extortion” and being “vulnerable to exploitation” by “hostile foreign powers” who are buying up Canada’s natural resources.
“Depending on dictatorships for key goods and resources is a major strategic and economic vulnerability,” the budget reads, echoing comments U.S. President Joe Biden made during his recent visit to Ottawa.
Nadjibulla, who specializes in international security and the Indo-Pacific region, said the rhetoric marks “a big departure from previous budget documents” in its frankness.
“Even more so than in the Indo-Pacific strategy, we see the direction of travel,” she said.
Mark Warner, a Canadian and American trade lawyer, told a panel that the implementation of “friendshoring” is already raising questions from his clients.
The automotive and textile sectors have asked him how much material they can use from China before Washington labels a product made in Canada, Mexico or Guatemala as including Chinese content, he warned.
He said that question is coming up for electronics and will likely affect pharmaceuticals, too.
“The question of how much Chinese content gets called Canadian is coming,” he said. “If we’re seen as being the back door for China, or whatever, that’s going to be more problematic.”
Warner said Canada’s geography means it will always make sense to rely on Washington, even if Ottawa needs to tweak how it treats other countries under a “friendshoring” policy.
“If the Americans are serious about this, then we really have to figure out our way to be in that (space) in a way that’s coherent. And that’s how we’ll protect our manufacturers,” he said.
Yet Mary Lovely, an American economist with the Washington-based Peterson Institute, said the U.S. has been inconsistent in listing who actually qualifies as a friend.
“The U.S. language and the rhetoric can be interpreted in a lot of ways,” she said, adding that this goes back to the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Europe and Mexico.
“We saw some confusion in U.S. trade policy over who’s a quote-unquote friend,” she said.
For example, on Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced an electric-vehicle tax credit that would apply to goods from Canada, Nicaragua and Oman, but not to those from France and Germany.
Canada is already setting the stage for a cross-border salvo with Washington, announcing in this week’s budget that Ottawa is considering retaliatory policies if the U.S. doesn’t stop blocking Canadian companies from certain government contracts and green-tech programs.
Still, Washington has successfully been wedging countries against China, such as with language in the United States-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement that forbids Canada from signing a trade deal with Beijing without U.S. consent. The same language has appeared in recent agreements with Japan and Taiwan.
Last October, the Biden administration announced sweeping restrictions on China’s access to semiconductor chips made in any country using U.S. technology, in order to slow Beijing’s technological and military rise.
Washington is already talking about similar restrictions on biotechnology and quantum tech, Nadjibulla said. She added that this is causing consternation in Southeast Asia, where countries want to maintain economic links with China, Australia, Europe and the world.
But Lovely said many countries are willing to go along with these rules because they crave American investment and a guarantee they won’t be suddenly frozen out of the world’s largest economy.
“They fear coming a closure of the American market, and they want to be on the right side of that door,” she said.
Lovely expresses skepticism about governments combining “friendshoring” policies with subsidies for their domestic businesses. She said this imposes a necessity to make subsidized companies succeed even when they’re inefficient, and positions foreign trade as a threat to local firms.
“We can think of these (partnerships) as secure, like-minded, that speak to our values — however you want. But they are going to be higher-cost,” she said.
“We do need to be aware of the fact that closing markets will lead our own economies to be less competitive on the export side.”
She said this will further isolate countries and make it harder to rally global investment to counter climate change.
South Africa’s high commissioner in Ottawa expressed a similar view.
In an interview, Rieaz Shaik argued that Yellen’s term lets rich countries divide the world without acknowledging the realities of developing countries and the need to address the climate crisis.
“It is the most dangerous term in the history of global political relationships, ‘friendshoring,’ because it’s exclusionary. Worse, it says that your non-friend is the other,” Shaik said in a wide-ranging interview.
“We know how apartheid South Africa dealt with the other. They dehumanized us and they removed all our rights to exist. As the other, they could do whatever they want. So I detest ‘friendshoring.'”
In any case, Nadir Patel, a senior strategic advisor with Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, said Ottawa’s simultaneous rhetoric around shoring up trade with allies and developing deeper ties with regions such as Southeast Asia will only come to fruition if corporate Canada follows suit.
“Canadian business needs to step up and do more in other parts of Asia, where we’re not active,” said Patel, a former Canadian high commissioner to India, during the panel.
“Businesses need to step up and want to leverage that, and not just kick tires once in a while, but really be out there with a presence on a regular basis.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2023.
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