Take a look into any prospering small city or town and it will be easy to find the entrepreneurial spirit manifesting itself in a number of ways. It could begin with a child’s lemonade stand or lawn cutting business and encompass financial ventures on a grander scale. It is my belief that municipalities of practically any size cannot have too many entrepreneurs because it is the small business person(s) that will assist the city or town in its ability to thrive. Kenai is no different; there are a great number of economic success stories from the early days of the homesteaders to the present ranging from the hospitality / food and beverage industry, to agricultural enterprises, to the oil and gas field and any number of business ideas in between.
It will always be in the best interest of government of any size to encourage the local business sector of its constituency. Commerce will always bring commerce and a culture of a fair and advantageous tax structure free from over regulation and bureaucratic roadblocks will always encourage those with the proper mix of ideas and a willingness to take that first calculated risk towards financial freedom and independence. Although entrepreneurs and small business owners often tend primarily to their own self-interests, it’s a more aware self-interest; one that will take into account the bigger picture of a town’s prosperity. It is this prosperity that drives many towns to experience a substantial level of success. Nurture these people, give them room to operate, and the better they will do, the better the town will do and will generally find itself on the road to a positive growth curve.
I also believe it is important to maintain local control over these businesses; not to be taken as governmental control but control by the people or families that started the businesses in the beginning. It is this level of activity and community involvement from the local citizenry that contributes to the attractiveness and prosperity of a small town such as Kenai. With a strong level of local “buy in” if you will it is likely the town will have a greater chance of being strong and more vibrant than a town without.
It is this level of community sponsored involvement that will allow a town to build its brand and announce to others outside of the town that Kenai is a place to live, grow, and prosper. With an effectively marketed and accurately descriptive brand there is no guess work, companies or persons exploring the possibility of relocating or expanding to Kenai will know what to expect. It can set us apart from other locales and explain what we are about and what we have to offer any interested party. This does not happen overnight, people may be surprised that Kenai has a message to send, but it does. Whether it has been consciously crafted or not, that message is delivered to outsiders each time they visit. Resources and efforts should be collaboratively focused on discovering, and cultivating this message.