The territorial government has released the NWT’s first Manufacturing Strategy.
The launch took place on June 3 in Hay River.
“We have a document now that I think we’re going to use to be able to move this thing forward in a collective manner,” said Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann, who noted it was created in consultation with the manufacturing sector and the NWT Manufacturers Association.
“It’s not the answer to everything right now, but it’s at least what we’ve got to guide us going forward and move us closer to the association on this,” he added.
Schumann admitted the strategy may not be the direction that some people would want to see the government take.
“I think a lot of people would rather see us inject money into this thing,” he said, while noting the upcoming 19th Legislative Assembly will face tougher financial decisions than the current 18th Legislative Assembly. “There’s going to be some tough choices going to have to be made coming up, but I think this strategy is going to work and we’ve got to keep focused on the long-term objectives of the Government of the Northwest Territories for everyone’s benefit.”
Schumann said the GNWT will work with the NWT Manufacturers Association for years to come to make the new strategy work for everyone.
“It’s a starting point to move forward,” he said.
The new strategy aims to expand the manufacturing sector; identify potential areas of growth; promote and market products manufactured in the NWT; aid in professional and technological advancement; improve access to information, services and capital; and renew the Northern Manufactured Products Policy.
Jason Coakwell, president of the NWT Manufacturers Association, said the organization believes there are lots of opportunities to grow the manufacturing sector.
“As an association, we’re encouraged there’ll be a collaborative approach on key policy issues, and welcome working together to benefit the manufacturing sector in the Northwest Territories,” he said.
Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson noted that, at the beginning of the 18th Assembly, he encouraged the government to focus on manufacturing.
“Those are the kind of jobs that can help grow an economy,” Simpson said.
The GNWT committed to delivering the manufacturing strategy in its mandate for 2016-2019.
Annual reviews will be built into the strategy’s implementation to permit the GNWT and the NWT Manufacturers Association to make course adjustments where necessary.
In 2017, the annual economic value of the manufacturing sector was $24.8 million, or approximately 0.5 per cent of the NWT’s gross domestic product.
The strategy sets a goal of increasing manufacturing sales by 25 per cent in its first three years, and a further 25 per cent by the fifth year of its implementation.
The NWT Manufacturing Strategy was developed with input from the NWT Manufacturers Association, chambers of commerce, various GNWT departments, and the public.