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NWT manufacturers get online boost
Made in the NWT program launches website and introduces manufacturer insignia

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 6, 2013

Manufacturers in the Northwest Territories are getting the spotlight treatment from a program which aims to promote products made in the territory.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Made in the NWT program, a partnership between the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment and the NWT Chamber of Commerce, recently launched a Made in the NWT website. The online presence aims to bring renewed awareness to local and regional manufacturers, said Mike Bradshaw, executive director of the chamber.

Link to Made in the NWT site

The NWT manufacturing sector peaked in 2005 with $92.5 million in total revenue, including the once-thriving secondary diamond industry.

After the collapse of all but one diamond factory, the manufacturing sector hit a low of $19.8 million in 2009 and has gradually been making its way back, said Bradshaw.

"Our manufacturing sector has gone through a bit of a downturn since the global economic collapse and our diamond polishing and cutting manufacturers closed up shop for the most part, except for Crossworks, so what we've been doing through the program is to bring some awareness to the local and regional manufacturers that support local economies," said Bradshaw.

"It's a pretty diverse group of manufacturers, everything from syrups and jams and jellies through to cabinet manufacturers and countertop manufacturers like Sunrise in Enterprise. We're pretty pleased with the diversity of the group and it gives us lots to build on."

Under administration of the chamber since 2010, the Made in the NWT program has grown from seven members to more than 30 local and regional manufacturers involved in the program now.

Rocky Simpson, owner of Concept Energy Services Ltd., the only NWT manufacturer of portable industrial trailers and camps, said the company joined the Made in the NWT program mostly for bidding on government work.

Simpson said the program's promotion of NWT manufacturers is "positive.

"It's positive. I think there could be a lot more manufacturing in the territories and more so for Hay River because we're so close to Alberta that we could sell our stuff here but we could also sell it into Alberta if it's slow here or vice-versa," said Simpson.

The Hay River-based company has capitalized on its location to sell and rent its units to industry in Alberta, including oil and gas players, and is also looking to supply upcoming mine operations such as Avalon Rare Metals Inc.'s Nechalacho rare earths project, Simpson said.

Made in the NWT has also been promoting retail manufacturers and is now supplying program members with Made in the NWT stickers, retail tags and posters.

"When customers see the Made in the NWT insignia, they'll recognize the jobs and other economic benefits tied to these products, encouraging them to choose Made in the NWT products," stated Kathy Gray, president of the chamber of commerce, in a recent news release.

The most recent Statistics Canada data estimates NWT manufacturing revenues at more than $25 million annually. The sector also employs more than 100 people across the North and is seeing average annual growth of more than two per cent.

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