The things you think about with a new year.

Author:Atkins, Michael
Position:President's Note

This will be the 46th time I have entered a new year pondering the economic climate and how it might impact our business. This is not unusual for those of us who have the responsibility to predict. That's what business is. It doesn't get simpler.

We ask the linear questions first, like will someone like Sears go bankrupt this year and confiscate their annual spend? Will they pay their bad debt and should we put our bad debt allowance up or down or leave it alone?

Can we count on Canada Post to be more or less on strike into the new year, with any anticipated bonuses for our distribution system that would balance the former?

Internationally, will the new and controversial president of Brazil (head office for Vale) cause the company to do something unanticipated in the Canadian market where they dominate nickel production? Will that impact on their supply chain in some way and influence our Northern Ontario suppliers and, ultimately, our mining publications?

In Sudbury, where we publish newspapers and magazines, will the city succeed or fail in their absurd determination to move the Sudbury arena out of the downtown and build a new one, along with a casino and a new hotel, in an industrial setting three kilometres away? How many restaurants will go down when the casino offers meals below cost to attract bettors? What will happen to downtown businesses and how will that impact cash flow?

Will the change in provincial government starve Sudbury (with no government members) of any meaningful government support for the tens of millions of dollars they need to invest in the downtown to counteract the arena fiasco, and will it impact the retail economy?

On the climate change file, will there be another massive fire in northeastern Ontario, which is devastating to our people and businesses, but very good for digital traffic?

Will global warming impact the distribution of our newspaper with floods, or snowstorms or hurricanes, which is entirely possible? If you do something that involves weather (like distributing 50,000 newspapers every week), you need to read the Farmer's Almanac.

Then there is GAFA--Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Will Facebook continue to...

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