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Amazon bringing cloud computing hub to Calgary with $4 billion investment – Calgary Herald

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In what Premier Jason Kenney is calling the largest tech investment in Alberta’s history, Amazon officials confirmed Monday they’re investing $4.3 billion in a cloud computing hub in Calgary.

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The move, which will ultimately create 950 full-time jobs across Canada, is only Amazon Web Services (AWS) second such data region in the country, complementing one established in Montreal in 2016.

Kenney, whose UCP government has come under intense fire from critics both inside and outside its ranks for its handling of a number of issues and is struggling in opinion polls, called the announcement an economic watershed for Alberta and a vindication of his party’s economic strategy.

“This is a game-changer and the largest technology investment in Alberta’s history,” Kenney told a Calgary press conference.

“For anybody who thought that all of the great news in the Alberta tech and innovation sector was just a temporary flash in the pan, this is for real, this is big.”

Of those new jobs, 837 of them should be created by 2037, said Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer.

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The Seattle-based company said the hub, with separate locations for each data centre, will allow customers to access a variety of cloud-computing products in Canada. This also means companies with data residency requirements will have the ability to store such information within the country.

Initial ground-breaking work has already begun on one of the local data centres expected to be built locally. Senior AWS officials expect the new region in Western Canada to launch in late 2023 or early 2024.

The company’s offerings already serve local tech firms like Benevity and Kidoodle.TV and the Alberta Motor Association, and will build on those partnerships, said AWS Canada general manager Eric Gales.

“We have tens of thousands of customers in Canada, many of whom are here in Alberta,” said Gales.

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“This new region will join 25 other regions around the world for AWS.”

He said the company will be investing $21 billion in Canada by 2037 while reaching a 100 per cent renewable energy capacity by 2025.

AWS is also partnering with Mount Royal University to offer free training to candidates for entry-level positions to add to the 100,000 Canadians trained by the company since 2013, said Rejean Bourgault, AWS Canada’s country leader.

“This is all part of a new age in the Alberta economy … it will help to provide folks who are unemployed or underemployed the ability to gain the key skills they need,” said Kenney

An executive of one Calgary-based tech start-up said AWS has already been instrumental in the progress of his company.

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“It was from the support of AWS that we grew into the company we are today,” said Daniel Riddell of Kidoodle TV.

“It’s important that companies embrace technology, embrace the cloud and embrace change.”

Following on Alberta’s best year in attracting tech investment — 2020, with $450 million — the AWS announcement shows the province is gaining the critical mass needed for a decisive economic transformation, said Kenney.

Alberta’s younger, highly-educated workforce, a low corporate tax regime, cheaper cost of living and attractive lifestyle were vital in attracting the data hub, said the premier.

The move comes four years after Calgary Economic Development made an unsuccessful pitch to Amazon to locate its second corporate headquarters in the city.

But the online retail behemoth did open a distribution centre just north of the city limits that same year.

Amazon employs nearly 40,000 people in Canada.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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Here’s why you shouldn’t shy away from investing, even if you only have a small amount of money – CNBC

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Robert G. Allen, author of several best-selling personal finance books once asked, “How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” 

Using a savings account and an emergency fund for short-term expenses is important, but investing for retirement and the future is arguably just as crucial. While it may feel pointless to start investing if you don’t have much money, it can still be incredibly worthwhile. Think of it this way: few, if any, start investing with a large sum of money. For many, growing your wealth happens over years and years and is a slow and steady process.

By starting slow, even with a small amount of cash, you can begin to establish the habit of investing regularly, which will hopefully lead to a large nest egg in the future.

Select details why you should start investing today, even if you don’t have a large amount of money to start with.

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Why you should start investing today

Investing can be an intimidating word and concept for many reasons. There are a large amount of terms, tax implications, planning and investments to understand — along with knowing there will be market fluctuations making your net worth go up and down. But by understanding the mere basics, you can begin to grow your wealth quickly.

Corbin Blackwell CFP, senior financial planner at wealth management app Betterment, told Select that, “Investing is one of the best ways to grow your long-term wealth and reach major goals for things like retirement, buying a home and college funds.”

He also said that beginning the investing journey is often the most difficult part, as growth will be limited at first. He added that, “Tools available today, like digital investment advisors, make it easier than ever to get started.”

And by getting started today, you have the best asset that any investor can have on their side: time.

By letting your money sit in the market longer, you allow for compound interest to take over — which is when your interest and gains stack on top of one another. Blackwell gives an excellent example of the power of compound interest:

“Let’s say you invested just $100 today and saw a 5% annual return – thanks to the power of compound interest, if you don’t touch your investment, in 30 years you’d have $430.”

That’s an ok return, but imagine if you invested $100 monthly for 30 years into a common index fund. An index fund is a fund that has a group of companies within it, and tracks the performance of the entire group. These groups can range in focus including the size of each company, the respective industries, location of the companies, type of investment and more. One of the most popular indices, the S&P 500, consists of the 500 largest companies in the United States, making it a relatively safe investment because of its exposure to hundreds of companies and dozens of industries.

Many consider this a ‘boring investment,’ but the results the index has produced are nothing to balk at.

The average yearly return of the S&P 500 over the last 30 years is 10.7%, but even at a conservative return of 8%, you would have over $146,000 if you invest $100 a month for 30 years. The impressive part is that your total contributions would be $36,000, which means your money would have quadrupled in value in 30 years (note that past performance does not guarantee future success).

In short, the more money and more time you have in the market, the more likely you are to grow your investment funds.

How to begin investing

If growing your net worth is your goal, you can get started in just a few minutes. Here are a few things to consider:

Build a budget that works for you

Starting to invest with a small amount of money isn’t an issue. However, it’s important to know how much you can afford to invest, as you don’t want to harm your personal finances in the process. Blackwell urged, “as long as you aren’t using money [to invest] that you need to cover day to day expenses such as food, rent and high interest debt payments, I recommend you start investing.”

A budget gives you a way to see where your money is going each month, where you can possibly cut back and how much you can invest each month. You can set up a budget for yourself using a budgeting app, a spreadsheet or even a simple pen and paper. I use Personal Capital to manage my budget because I’m able to track my expenses and monitor the performance of my investments in one convenient app.

Regardless of which budgeting method works best for you, it’s important to have an established budget to understand how much you can invest each month without cutting into the money allocated towards your monthly essentials.

Select an investing “bucket” and investments

There are many different buckets you can fill with money, such as a Roth IRA, HSA, 529 or taxable brokerage account. Each of these accounts serve a different purpose and have different tax implications, so be sure to select one that makes sense for you. For example, a Roth IRA is great if you plan on being in a higher tax bracket when you retire — you’ll contribute after-tax income but all gains are tax-free after 59 and a half years old.

Once you select the type of account you want to invest within, you then must decide what type of investment to put your money into. This is the puzzling part for many, as there are an abundance of options, from ETFs to viral meme stocks to index funds and many more in-between.

For long term investors, index funds are a great solution as they have low fees, are low maintenance, provide wide exposure and many provide stable returns. In fact, John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, summarizes the effectiveness of index funds in one analogy: “Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack.”

Regardless of which investment you choose, it’s important to evaluate your risk-tolerance and understand what you’re investing in. Be sure to do your own research, and potentially connect with an accredited financial advisor to discuss the best options.

Automate your investing

Once you determine how much you can and want to invest each month, it’s important to turn on auto-investing.

This is where money is taken out of your checking account each month and automatically deposited into your choice of investments. Choosing this option is important because it takes the leg work away from needing to invest each month. Additionally, studies show that we are built for ‘present bias‘ — which is the idea that the farther away something is, the less important it is. Essentially, it’s much easier to spend now, rather than save for later. Automating transfers from your checking account or paycheck into an investment account will help ensure you don’t spend money that you were planning on investing.

By automating your investments, you will be passively growing your nest egg and getting yourself closer to reaching your financial goals.

You may also want to consider a robo-advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront. Robo-advisors work by gathering information from you on your financial situation and investing goals to suggest investments that fit your needs and risk tolerance. After supplying this information, the robo-advisor will build you a portfolio based on your answers through computer algorithms and advanced software, with little to no work on your end. Plus, it will rebalance your investments over time based on your goals and changes in the market.

Best brokerages to get started

To begin investing, you’ll need to select a brokerage account provider. These brokerages serve as the intermediary between you and the seller of the stock or security you want to purchase.

When deciding on the best brokerage for you, be sure to consider these factors:

  • Fees: These can range from minimum deposits, stock trade fees, mutual fund trade fees and more. Be sure to select a no- or low-fee brokerage.
  • Ease of use: Each brokerage has a different website and mobile app. While this is much more subjective, it’s advantageous to use a brokerage with a web interface and experience you understand and enjoy.
  • Promotions: From time to time, brokerages will offer bonuses to new users. For example, I recently signed up for a Fidelity brokerage account and earned a $100 bonus after depositing $50.

Below are a few of our favorite online brokerages:

Fidelity

Information about Fidelity accounts has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Fees/commissions

    $0 for stocks, ETFs, options and some mutual funds

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, fractional shares, ETFs, mutual funds, options

Pros

  • Some ETFs don’t have expense ratios
  • Mobile app is easy to use
  • No commissions on many types of securities

Cons

  • No futures or forex trading
  • High fees for broker assisted trades

TD Ameritrade

  • Fees/commissions

    $0 commission on stocks, options and ETFs

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, Forex, and futures

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • Intuitive trading platform
  • Large selection of mutual funds

Cons

  • Some mutual funds charge high commissions
  • Free research may not all be relevant to novice investors
  • Doesn’t offer fractional shares of stocks

Vanguard

Information about the Vanguard accounts has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Fees/commissions

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, CDs

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • One of the largest ETF and mutual funds offerings around
  • Large number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Cons

  • $20 annual fee for IRAs and brokerage accounts, though investors can waive this fee by opting into paperless statements
  • Basic trading platform only
  • No robust research and data tools

Bottom line

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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Increased scrutiny will make greenwashing tougher – Investment Executive

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The global conversation around climate and social issues will make engaging in greenwashing more difficult, says Jacob Hegge, an investment specialist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Hegge said the growing popularity of bonds that focus on environment, social and governance (ESG) excellence is helping to identify bad-faith players who try to appear more conscientious than they are.

He allowed that investing in green initiatives can be confusing, given unclear and sometimes conflicting definitions, but standardization is coming.

“It’s great to see all the activity around ESG, but a consequence of this increased activity means a greater dispersion in terminology,” he said. “As ESG investing continues to grow, we’d expect to see more standardization. But until then, it’s important to understand that navigating the landscape can be difficult.”

Hegge said investors should test the terminology used to define green projects.

“Is the data or testing methodology readily available for investors to use? Is it easy to understand? Are the definitions explained and easily accessible? These are things investors need to be looking out for,” he said. “It comes down to transparency and consistency. And as ESG investing continues to grow globally, we expect this standardization to be more prominent in the market.”

The hot ESG market makes it all the more necessary for investors to know what they’re buying, Hegge said. “We do think it’s important for investors to look under the hood and pay attention to what investment firms are saying when they title a fund as being ESG. They really need to make sure that investment products are staying true to the prospectus.”

Hegge said green and sustainability-linked bonds are being issued at record levels, and issues are likely to increase.

“This year alone, green social sustainability and sustainability-linked bonds are expected to reach a combined issuance of over a trillion [U.S. dollars], which is doubled compared to last year,” he said. “And … some expect that investment in green bonds will actually double and reach US$1 trillion for the first time in a single year by the end of next year.”

Hegge said many companies are at the beginning of their green journeys, and their success in meeting ambitious targets will reflect their commitment level.

“Don’t narrow your opportunity set by being put off by low ESG scores. The important part is whether these scores are improving over time. You can find sustainable bonds even if they don’t have a sustainable label in the market,” he said.

“The global fixed-income market is very large and there are a lot of opportunities out there.”

**

This article is part of the Soundbites program, sponsored by Canada Life. The article was written without sponsor input.

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Halifax's Skinfix Secures Major Investment – Huddle Today

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HALIFAX—Halifax beauty company Skinfix has secured investment from a big name in the beauty world; Stride Consumer Partners has announced a minority investment in the company.

The deal is the first investment from the new private equity firm, which was started by a former team from Castanea Partners. Castanea is known for investing in and exiting with well-known beauty brands like Urban Decay, First Aid Beauty, and Tatcha.

The terms of the investment were not disclosed but the news comes as Skinfix is in the middle of a massive growth year. According to CEO Amy Gordinier, the company has grown by 300 percent in 2021, compared to last year.

In an interview with Huddle, Gordinier said she’s thrilled to “bring an investor to the table that has deep beauty experience” and put Skinfix in a position to scale even more quickly.

From Kitchen Table To Sephora

Gordinier founded Skinfix in 2014, after meeting the great-great-granddaughter of an English pharmacist. The woman, Karen Warren, was using a 150-year-old formula to make a skin balm in her kitchen.

Gordinier rebranded the balm and helped Skinfix expand into a host of products like its Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide line and Resurface+ line.

In 2019, the company officially launched in Sephora and quickly became one of the beauty giant’s best-selling skincare brands.

RELATED: How Skinfix Is Taking The Skincare World By Storm From Halifax

Gordinier says that journey makes Skinfix a fitting first investment for Stride.

“Some of these folks, through Castena, invested and exited some big names in the beauty industry. So, they have really good experience in scaling brands of this size and recognizing brands that have a lot of potential,” she said.

Gordinier says she’s excited to draw from Stride’s experienced team to help scale and market Skinfix.

She said Sephora will remain Skinfix’s primary customer and focus but that she sees a big opportunity in the direct-to-consumer market.

“Just investing a little bit of money and effort into our DTC we’ve almost tripled it year on year, so there’s tremendous potential with our DTC business that just requires an investment,” she said.

Along with more focus on its DTC market, Gordinier said Skinfix will also enter a new product category in January when it launches a line of acne products.

RELATED: Nearly $2 Million For Four Halifax Startups

Building A Global Brand From Atlantic Canada Is Possible

Gordinier said Skinfix’s quick growth, and the interest it has attracted from big-name investors like Stride, is proof that an Atlantic Canadian company can compete on the global stage.

“These folks are in beauty and private equity and consumer private equity in the US, and seeing hundreds of opportunities. And they chose Skinfix as their first and only investment so far—and their processes is pretty rigorous,” she said.

“I think it’s exciting for the region, and for aspiring entrepreneurs, and I think it just sort of reinforces that we need to think globally and consider ourselves worthy of attention.”

She encouraged other Nova Scotian companies to “think outside of Canada.”

“Hopefully [what we’ve done] helps to inspire people to think big and to go for it,” she said.

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