Half a Century
The foundations for NWT Chamber of Commerce were laid in 1973 with the mission to “foster sustainable and progressive business growth through strategic networking and partnerships.”
As the NWT Chamber got off the ground in 1973 — when the Northwest Territories still included modern-day Nunavut — the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce was changing its identity from 'Yellowknife Board of Trade'. After a half-century, the NWT Chamber counts the YK Chamber as an important ally, along with smaller Chambers in communites where they are registered.
While the NWT Chamber has its head office in Yellowknife, our service area is the 1.4 million square kilometres of the territory. There are 33 communities in the NWT, ranging in size from 92 people in Jean Marie River, to 759 in Fort McPherson, 2,607 in Fort Smith, 3,796 in Hay River and 21,720 in the capital. There are active private businesses in all regions — Beaufort Delta, Dehcho, Sahtu, South Slave, Tłįchǫ and the North Slave (capital area) — ranging from traditional activities, outfitters, home offices, local stores, hotels, independent professionals to the NWT’s largest corporations, including mines and transportation companies.
It’s a unique, wonderful and challenging place with awesome natural beauty and significant prospects for entrepreneurs.
The NWT Chamber works to promote and create business opportunities, foster business development, and serve as a channel for professional business relationships between members, all level of governments and business organizations.
There are many government departments providing training and financial support for entrepreneurs to get off the ground in the North. However, government regulations can end up being a detriment to private business once in operation. Changing political leadership can also interfere with free market ideals over time.
Moreover, who speaks for the business community in the face of the myriad of anti-development forces?
Savvy businesspeople know they need an advocate to carry their concerns to the right ears or to speak for the entire sector when needed, businesses, so one operator alone does not get singled out.
During the historic global pandemic, the NWT Chamber switched its stance to that of a program provider to ensure businesses could weather the potentially game over storm of forced closures and other public health measures.
We partnered with corporations and government to provide grants and also launched the successful #shopNWT campaign in 2020. We helped businesses comply with public health restrictions and reopen safely.
But advocacy isn’t the only function of a Chamber. Whether it’s customer referrals, educational and networking opportunities, discounts from sponsoring businesses, access to Chamber Insurance and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an annual NWT Chamber membership can more than pay for itself.
We also profile one member each week on social media — the NWT Chamber is active daily on major channels — and an informative and colourful newsletter drops into members’ in-boxes early each Friday afternoon.
Sources of funding for the NWT Chamber include membership fees (our primary support), private sector sponsorships, administration fees, newsletter advertising, mass E-Blast emails to members, sponsored social media posts and training contacts. We also receive government support, when necessary, for attending educational events and conferences, or to stage conferences or trade shows in the NWT.