Meet Sask’s Foremost Business Leader

December 17, 2004

Release Date: December 17, 2004
News that the Golden Opportunities Fund, based here in Saskatoon, was rated the No. 1 labour-sponsored investment fund in all of Canada is praiseworthy in its own right.

It’s a legitimate and obvious pick in a sector of the investment fund market where people want a tax break immediately, but have low expectations of year-over-year positive returns. Indeed, index charts of labour-sponsored funds show them to most likely be negative over time.

People such as well-known columnist Gordon Pape and Allan Jacks, a financial commentator from Winnipeg who runs the Crocus Investment Fund, were among the six experts who looked at the 120 labour-sponsored funds in Canada this year and picked Golden Opportunities as tops.

The fund stood out for its positive performance on the unit price, but also because it has had such a dramatic impact on the province in which it was founded.

Saskatchewan isn’t known as a venture capital place. In this province, companies with a broad shareholder base are few and far between, except perhaps in the co-operative movement, which is shrinking drastically with the move of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool to make all of its shares common.

With Golden Opportunities, some 8,000 shareholders have become capitalists in a broad sense of the word, trusting the management skills of Grant Kook and his team to pick good opportunities for growth in companies involved in a number of sectors.

Job creation is important to all labour unions and that was the social good behind the generous tax credits an investor gets by buying into a labour-sponsored fund. The companies in which Golden Opportunities has invested represent 1,500 jobs in Saskatchewan.

“You never know if a company didn’t get that venture capital money whether that job would still be there today,” Kook said in an interview this week.

I say it can be safely argued that Philom Bios, its intellectual property, its 70 jobs and its manufacturing assets might be located today in Iowa if it wasn’t for Golden Opportunities working with Jim Yuel’s PIC Investments to buy the shares owned by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and thus put an end to a hostile takeover bid.

It is also possible that Quill Lake Resources near Wynyard, a specialty fertilizer company, might not be operating if Golden Opportunities hadn’t stepped in.

Time after time in the business community when talk of a company needing capital for expansion comes up, Grant Kook’s name is mentioned. I would argue that Kook has become the most influential business leader in Saskatoon and perhaps within the province.

True, he doesn’t run a multi-million-dollar global enterprise. But he, more than anyone I can think of, is helping Saskatchewan move to an economy where investor-driven models of economic investment will be considered normal.

Murray Lyons
The StarPhoenix
December 17, 2004

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2004