The Department of Economic Development and Tourism was established in 1977 and assumed responsibility for the majority of the programs that were delivered by the Department of Economic Development.
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism was responsible for the promotion and development of businesses within the Northwest Territories in order to create jobs and incomes for northerners. This was facilitated through the provision of financial assistance such as grants and loans, technical support and employment training programs. The department targeted the development of employment opportunities within the arts and crafts, small business, gas and mineral, renewable resources and tourism sectors. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism was also responsible for the promotion and development of the Northwest Territories as a tourism destination, through marketing, development of tourist facilities and the territorial parks system.
The Business Services and Tourism Division operated between 1973-1979. It combined services required by the business community and the travel industry in the development of their enterprises. The Business Services or Financial section provided financial assistance through the Small Business Loan Fund and Eskimo Loan Fund and provided counseling for applicants seeking loans. The Cooperative and Credit Union sector provided general business counseling to new or developing businesses and regulated and monitored the operations of cooperatives and provided advisory services to cooperatives and to the Canadian Arctic Cooperative Federation. In 1978, this division also delivered the Special Rural Development Agreement (ARDA) funding which provided financial contributions to businesses and organizations, particularly aboriginal development corporations. The tourism activity managed Travel Arctic and the territorial parks. It provided services and assistance to encourage tourism and for the development of related facilities, such as package tours and visitor's centers. In 1979, this division reorganized and the Financial Services and Cooperative section transferred to the Business Development Division. The Parks and Tourism Division was created as the importance of developing infrastructure for the emerging tourist market was emphasized.
The Projects and Marketing Division of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism was responsible for the planning, development and overall management of the department's commercial, industrial and craft projects, as well as for the marketing activity. The Arts and Crafts program provided development, planning and counseling services to Inuit and aboriginal artists and artisans and published information about northern arts and crafts to dealers and collectors within and outside of the Northwest Territories. The program also focused on training local people to assume a managerial role in craft operations. The Marketing program worked with the Arts and Crafts activity to assist in the marketing of finished products and to exhibit northern arts and crafts at trade shows, through catalogues and at events such as the Pacific National Exhibition, Montreal Olympics and the Calgary Stampede.
In 1980, the Commerce Division replaced the Project and Marketing Division. The Commerce Division was responsible for promoting new business ventures, supporting and stimulating existing commercial activity, especially within the renewable resources sector. The Small Business Development sector was a new addition to this division that provided financial consulting, technical support, marketing advice and training programs that assisted new and existing businesses. The Arts and Crafts sector became a more enabling program that supported craft producer organizations, developed an awareness of opportunities and helped people to take advantage of these opportunities through the newly formed Northwest Territories Arts and Crafts Council and the Commercial Enterprises and Marketing sector. The Cooperative Division was integrated into the Commerce Division from the Business Services and Tourism Division in 1979. It continued to regulate and monitor the operations of cooperatives and provided advisory support to individual cooperatives and to the Canadian Arctic Cooperative Federation. Renewable Resources Development also became part of the Commerce Division at this time, which was consistent with the departmental mandate to maximize commercial development of primary resources. The objectives of this service were to provide technical assistance to the public and private sectors involved in planning, implementing or expanding of renewable based enterprises. Assistance was offered in preparing and evaluating proposals, feasibility studies, providing day-to-day technical assistance and financial support to the lumber and fishing industries and country foods programs, as well as maintaining a membership in related industry associations. Financial Services such as the Eskimo Loan Fund and the Fisherman's Loan Guarantee Fund, that had been part of the Business Services and Tourism Division, were now delivered through the Commerce Division.
In 1983, the Commerce Division reorganized and was renamed the Business Development Division. This division included a Small Business Section, Renewable Resources Development Section, Non-Renewable Resource Section and Arts and Crafts Section. The Non-renewable Resources Development placed an emphasis on promoting northern business in the mineral and petroleum sectors, produced the Northwest Territories Business Directory, and participated in trade shows that exhibited Northwest Territories exports. In 1988-1989, the Oil, Gas and Mining program was delivered through the Commerce Division. It encouraged the use of northern suppliers and a northern workforce and was involved in the North Warning System construction. Other activities delivered by the Commerce Division included the Trade, Investment and Industrial Development section that was responsible for stimulating activity in the areas of intersettlement, interprovincial and international trade and investment in small businesses. The Natural Resource Section promoted the integration of traditional skills in the wage economy. Programs and services were administered in support of commercial development of fisheries, arts and crafts, wildlife, forestry, fur and agriculture. The Oil and Gas Division and Natural Resources Division joined at this time to form the Resources Development Division, which continued to encourage employment and income benefits from renewable and non-renewable resource development.
In 1995-96, the Business Development Division was reorganized and renamed Corporate and Technical Services. The department was reorganized to meet increasing demands and programs were restructured to place decision-making closer to the client population. This was due to mineral exploration in the Northwest Territories and the expectation that there would be increased opportunity for local development. The division continued to deliver programs and services to small businesses, the arts and crafts sector, renewable resources and provided financial assistance through the Business Development fund.
When the Business Services and Tourism Division were reorganized, the Tourism and Parks Division was formed. This division placed a greater emphasis on developing the tourism industry and territorial parks system. It was responsible for tourism promotion, developing tourist facilities, providing advice and information to travelers and for developing, in conjunction with a Territorial Parks Committee, a Territorial Recreational Parks Program. The promotional publication, the Explorer's Guide was published by this division and the division participated in travel shows in Canada and the United States and promoted the Northwest Territories by advertising in magazines, direct mail campaigns, videos, merchandising and public relations. The division was also responsible for the implementation of the Tourism and Parks Programs, surveying travelers and evaluating tourist trends. The Regional Tourism Association was developed at this time to facilitate increased cooperation between the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the private sector and community residents in order to encourage community participation in the economic and social benefits to be derived from the tourism industry. The division's main task was to create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for residents and encourage the development of services and attractions that would contribute to the economy of the Northwest Territories.
In 1995-1996, the Tourism and Parks Division was reorganized and separated to form two divisions. The Parks and Visitors Services Division planned, developed and operated territorial parks and visitor's centers. This division was also responsible for interpretive displays, highway and community signage and provided direct service, support and information to encourage travel. The Territorial Parks Act and Territorial Travel and Tourism Act guided the program. The Tourism Development and Marketing Division was responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating tourism products and programs. Activities included supporting tourism industry associations, issuing licenses and ensuring that regulations were maintained. In cooperation with private sector, this division also planned and coordinated a tourism image for the Northwest Territories, through advertising, sales, promotion, merchandising, public and media relations and travel counseling. The division conducted analysis of market intelligence and evaluated tourism trends to maximize the effectiveness of tourism development programs.
The Planning and Development Division operated between 1976-1984. It was responsible for researching and planning new economic development projects and promoted the development of resident businesses. In addition, this activity prepared economic statistics in the Northwest Territories, conducted economic analysis of existing and proposed projects and provided technical information on non-renewable resources development. During this time period, the Planning and Development Division was involved in the introduction of the Department of Regional and Economic Expansion (DREE) and the delivery of the Special Agricultural and Rural Development Agreement fund (ARDA) to the Northwest Territories. Between 1980-1984, the focus of the Planning and Development Division concentrated on maximizing the benefits of renewable and non-renewable resource projects; therefore, the name of the division was changed to the Planning and Resource Development Activity to reflect this change of focus. The Economic Development Agreement was also delivered through the Planning and Resource Division and facilitated Federal-Territorial cooperation in initiatives that promoted planning and implementation of economic and socioeconomic development in the Northwest Territories. The economic initiatives focused on renewable resource development, arts and crafts, minerals, planning, tourism and small business development.
Between 1984-85, there were several changes within the Planning and Development Division and it ceased to exist. The mineral and petroleum resource section transferred to the Business Development Division and the responsibility for administering the Economic Development Agreement and development economic incentive policies were transferred to the Directorate.
In 1981, a Mineral and Petroleum Resource Development Section was added to the department to deal with non-renewable resource development and ensure participation of northerners within the industry. The Economic Planning Secretariat, also delivered by the department at this time, was responsible for Territorial economic planning program, formulation, policy development and evaluation and providing technical and professional expertise inside and outside the department.
In 1984-1985, the Financial Service and Administration Division was created and became responsible for the provision of financial and administration services in support of the department's objectives. The Administration section managed the division and provided support for personnel activities; the Finance section was responsible for general accounting of revenue and expenditures and coordinating and monitoring the budgetary processes. The Loans Administration Section was responsible for administration and accounting for Business Loans and Guarantees Fund, Eskimo Loan Fund, Special Agricultural and Rural Development Agreement Fund (ARDA) and Economic Development Agreement. The Systems and Procedures section provided technical assistance and training in financial management, accounting procedures and control.
Between 1985-86, the Department created the temporary Expo '86 division in which staff developed and operated a pavilion that presented the Northwest Territories to the world during Expo 1986, in Vancouver. The pavilion included audiovisual exhibits, a theatre, and a stage for live performances, a business center and retail sales concession. The program was completed during the 1986-87 fiscal year.
The Employment and Training Division was responsible for determining needs, developing strategies and administering programs directed at increasing employment levels and employability of northern residents. This division provided an employment and training placement and referral service, developed, coordinated and administered programs that would increase employment and provided training in career development. It also administered programs designed to solve short or long term unemployment problems in communities and developed and operated an employment counseling service through the Northwest Territories. This division delivered programs such as the Subsidized Term Employment Program (STEP), Territorial Employment Record and Information System (TERIS) and Hire North that trained northerners in operating highway construction equipment in order to construct a portion of the Mackenzie Highway.
The name of the Employment and Training Division was changed to Manpower Development Division in 1981. The division continued to be responsible for manpower counseling, identifying and securing training and employment opportunities for northerners and managing Apprenticeship Program, Training-on-the Job Program, Subsidized Term Employment Program, Labour Pools, Job Rotations, Job Relocations, Career Program and Territorial Employment Record Information System (TERIS).
During 1984-85, the Manpower Development Division continued to deliver programs however, it also was involved in facilitating the amalgamation of the various training functions in the Government of the Northwest Territories into the Department of Education.
The Policy and Planning Division emerged in 1987-1988 and was responsible for the evaluation and development of policies and programs for the department. It consisted of the Economic Planning and Policy Evaluation Sections and prepared the Northwest Territories Economic Review and Outlook. The division also provided technical assistance and advice to other divisions in the areas of market assessments, feasibility studies and special economic analyses. During 1995-1997, a Human Resources component was added to the Policy and Planning Division. This activity administered the Affirmative Action Business Education Development program (AABED) and was responsible for developing and maintaining the electronic information systems.
In 1995, the Business Credit Corporation was added to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. It was a Crown agency that provided loans, contract security lines of credit and loan guarantees to eligible businesses in Northwest Territories. The purpose of this activity was to provide operational funding for the Northwest Territories Business Credit Corporation.
In 1996-1997, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism joined with the Department of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the Department of Renewable Resources to form the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.