On November 22, the MCC participated in “Looking North & Talking Trade: A Discussion of Business Opportunities in Nunavut,” our first in-person event in what felt like a very long time.
According to Mariette Mulaire, President and CEO of the World Trade Centre, while many Manitoba companies focus most of their efforts on the U.S. market, they’re missing out on revenue streams from the many opportunities in Nunavut. In fact, companies in other jurisdictions, including Quebec, have been more aggressive in courting business there than some of their Manitoba counterparts.
From mineral exploration to culture, art, the potential for new culinary tastes, training and development services for the region’s young population, as well as construction needs related to housing, airports, and accommodations and care services for older adults, there are unmet needs and opportunities or a variety of sectors to do business in the North, especially in the Kivalliq region, located due north of Manitoba. Nunavut’s GDP is forecast to grow at 6.1 per cent this year, compared to nearly four per cent for Canada, but its economy is expected to go to the moon next year with GDP growth of 13.6 per cent.
The event, hosted by WTC VP Derek Earl, included a lively discussion moderated by MCC President & CEO Chuck Davidson, Perspectives from Northern Manitoba, featuring Colleen Smook, Mayor of Thompson; Gerry Marques, Director of Community Economic Development with PrairiesCan; and Todd Burns, CEO of Cypher Environmental.
“There is incredible opportunity in the resource-rich North and the potential for a strong trading relationship between Manitoba and Nunavut,” said Chuck Davidson, MCC President & CEO. “And although we all acknowledge there are infrastructure gaps, supply chain issues and associated costs, as well as workforce challenges, we must challenge preconceived notions and work together to break down some of these barriers to investment.”
In a second panel, Northern Re-Supply: Issues & Opportunities, moderated by Bram Strain, CEO, Business Council of Manitoba, Gary Bell, CEO, Calm Air; Marc Cool, GM of Arctic Gateway Group; and Derrick Webster, COO of EPLS Group of Companies, conveyed the importance of trade-enabling infrastructure such as a “bulletproof railway” and fully-functioning northern port.
Through public sector investment and private sector initiative, Manitoba’s economy can benefit, but the key is to be able to guarantee supplies and create economies of scale with goods travelling in both directions.
Earl wrapped up the morning with some final thoughts, sharing that Northern opportunities are there for organizations committed to relationship-building, innovation, competitiveness, and knowing their customers, but most importantly, to those who are willing to VISIT. In February 2022, the Northern Perspectives Conference will host Nunavut delegates in Winnipeg, and the Kivalliq Tradeshow is in planning for Sept. 2022.