A number of consultation sessions were held in Hay River last week by the GNWT to seek input for a new manufacturing strategy.
The sessions were held by representatives of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI), and its consultants from Kellett Communications in Yellowknife.
Mike Mageean, the director of business support, trade and economic analysis with ITI, said the sessions were part of public engagements in various areas of the NWT.
“This is actually creating a new strategy,” he said, noting a strategy was prepared in 2002, but never implemented.
Mageean noted the sessions included a very good conversation with the Hay River Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 9.
“There were approximately 20 people in the audience at that meeting,” he said.
That included Mayor Brad Mapes and Coun. Jason Coakwell, who is also president of the NWT Manufacturers’ Association.
On the evening of Nov. 9, a public session was held with a free-ranging discussion.
There were 14 people at the evening session, with about half being government representatives or consultants.
The question was asked what people would like to see in manufacturing in 10 years.
Coakwell noted that the afternoon session was told that there are about 140 people currently working in manufacturing in the NWT.
“In 10 years, let’s put a zero on that,” he said. “Let’s have 1,400 people employed in manufacturing.”
Coakwell said a new strategy should be all about creating jobs, growing the workforce and increasing the population.
On Nov. 10, the consultants also met with the Town of Hay River and made site visits to manufacturers.
Consultations have also taken place in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Simpson and Fort Smith.
Meetings have also been held in Yellowknife, but the process has not yet been concluded in the capital city.
Mageean said the process is designed to engage all manufacturers, chambers of commerce, manufacturing associations, and the NWT Association of Communities.
In addition, online input is being gathered from the public.
Mageean noted that the GNWT has already developed a number of strategies for other sectors of the economy, such as arts and crafts, agricultural and the Great Slave Lake fishery.
The GNWT has also identified a need to look at manufacturing, he noted. “In fact, that’s a mandated item with the 18th Legislative Assembly that we develop a manufacturing strategy.”
Mageean said the goal is to see what government can do to foster the development of manufacturing and increase opportunities and employment in that sector of the economy.