Where do we go from here? Forum should answer that question

Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council and the Kenai chapter of the Alaska Industry Support Alliance will host an economic forum this week.

The event kicks off with a session geared toward marketing for tourism related businesses on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, experts, officials, policy makers and industry movers and shakers, representing all sectors of the economy, will be on hand for presentations.

Given the current state of the economy, one might think there wouldn't be much to discuss at an economic forum. But John Torgerson, the Economic Development District's executive director, has a different view. The theme for the forum is "Looking Forward to the Next Decade," and Torgerson said he has asked presenters to focus on their plans for the future, rather than rehashing what's already happened.

"As a community heavily reliant on industry, we need to know where everyone is going, and where we can help," Torgerson said.

No doubt, the past year has been a tough one for Alaska's economy -- we all know that. The oil industry has been scaled back in this region due to a wildly fluctuating market, and the shut-in during Mount Redoubt's eruptions didn't help. Tourism has been suffering as fewer visitors have the discretionary money to spend on a trip north.

Our hope is that this event will provide a forum for our community to find an answer to the question on everybody's mind: Where do we go from here?

We can lament the current state of affairs all we want, but our community will be much better served if we can paint a clear, realistic picture of what we want our future to look like, and have a good understanding of what we need to do to get ourselves there.

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