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Nunavut Business

Nunavut business prospects look bright for the coming decades. Canada's youngest territory (created in 1999), harbors a wealth of natural resources and offers a myriad of government incentives intended to foster economic development and encourage investment. These include a low corporate tax rate, no sales tax or employer payroll tax, plus generous financing, loans and wage subsidy programs for investors that team up with Inuit or Nunavut partners. Key Nunavut business sectors include fishing and hunting, mining, energy, construction, transportation and logistics, arts and crafts, and tourism.

  • fishing and hunting - Many of the Inuit still live off the land following their traditional economy of hunting, trapping, gathering and fishing. In addition, commercial fisheries and the commercial harvest of game is also present (several fish and meat processing plants already operate in Nunavut). Greater potential still exists for the establishment of new commercial turbot, shrimp and char fisheries that can offer more Nunavut products to global markets.
  • mining - Gold, silver, lead, zinc, nickel, copper, and diamonds are all mined in Nunavut. Mineral exploitation is one of Nunavut's greatest growth stories, with mining and exploration expenditures up significantly since the territory's foundation in 1999.
  • oil and gas - Known oil and gas reserves rival those of Newfoundland, and the potential for additional discovery is estimated to be up to 20% of Canada’s future resource (tunngavik.com).
  • renewable energy - Currently the people Nunavut rely primarily on diesel fuel to run generators and heat homes, with fossil fuel shipments coming from southern Canada by plane or boat (because there are few to no roads or rail links to the region). As such, there is an effort to develop more renewable energy sources.
  • construction - Hundreds of housing units and government buildings are required each year to meet the demand of Canada's fastest growing population. Such demand is not only being met by foreign manufacturers, but by an increasingly self-reliant construction industry.
  • government support services - Nunavut relies on federal transfer payments for at least 90% of its revenue. As such, many of Nunavut's small businesses and retail outlets operate in support of government needs, or those of public servants.
  • transportation and logistics - Due to the vast distance between communities, transportation of goods and logistical support is a vital industry. Future demand for reliable air and sea service will not only come from Nunavut's expanding population and industry, but from the increased accessibility of the Northwest Passage (as a viable shipping route).
  • arts and crafts - Increasingly, carving and artistic pursuits are becoming staple economic activities throughout much of the north.
  • tourism - The region's outstanding natural beauty and unique Inuit culture attract thousands of tourists, artists, scientists and explorers annually, providing great opportunities for experienced hoteliers, adventure tour operators, and restaurateurs.
Nunavut flag
  • population (2006): 29,474
  • population (2011): 31,906
  • median age: 24.1 years
  • spoken languages: English, Inuit
  • area: 2,093,190 km² (808,185 miles²)
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