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GNWT hopes to develop knowledge economy in the territory

The GNWT has begun its work to develop a knowledge economy in the territory, which it says is critical to the continued growth of the NWT’s economy.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek points to the establishment of enterprises like the YK Makerspace and Inuvik’s Arts, Crafts and Technology Micro-manufacturing Centre, which has been open since 2019 as proof the knowledge economy — businesses based around ideas and scientific research — is taking hold.

“A knowledge economy has, at its heart, both the idea of human connectivity and an eye to the wealth of possibilities that can grow from ideas,” she said in a statement.

“With Northerners’ boundless imaginations and expertise, we know that the work to advance a knowledge economy will be unique to the history, culture, environment, potential and resources of the territory.” 

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During budget deliberations, Wawzonek said a position would be created within the GNWT to focus on coming up with “regional economic development strategies.”

The emphasis on developing the knowledge economy comes as the GNWT tries to diversify the territory’s economy, amid sharp decline.

The NWT saw the largest decline in GDP in Canada in 2020, dropping by 10.4 per cent, according to the NWT Bureau of Statistics.

Infrastructure spending was set to be a priority to kick start the NWT’s economy, with $451 million in capital estimates approved by the Legislative Assembly. 

Wawzonek said during budget deliberations she was cautiously optimistic that the NWT could see growth in its incomes.

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“If we can take the opportunities that are here, to make strategic investments to have and if we’re using our capital budget well, we may well start to see things improve to the point that this is not the last time that we can have a budget like this, namely a stability budget,” said Wawzonek.

“I think if we are being careful and using the sort of approach that we are,” she added. “I think we can still be in the same position next year, which isn’t necessarily seeing an improvement, but at least that stability can be maintained.”

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