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Several agencies working to draw new businesses

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Credit for at least some of the success shown by businesses in the Kenai Peninsula in recent years goes to several agencies whose purpose is to promote the borough as a place to do business and lure new industry here, and to lend financial and practical help to entrepreneurs launching new ventures.

Below is a quick look at some of the informational and technical resources available to business on the Kenai Peninsula and a bit about what the agencies do.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic

Development District:

This agency offers a broad range of services to small and start-up companies. It assists with writing business plans, securing commercial loans, offering access to capital and providing technical support through its Business Incubator Center located on the Kenai Spur Highway. The center currently has eight tenants. The EDD offers financial help through its revolving loan fund.

The EDD also provides communities with help in comprehensive economic planning. In March 2003, the EDD facilitated the Visitors Industry Summit in Kenai, drawing 61 participants who focused on building regional cooperation and strengthening the industry.

The EDD is funded through borough, state and federal grants, as well as by private and corporate donations and income from rental property.

Location: 14896 Kenai Spur Highway, Suite 103A, Kenai. Telephone: (907) 283-3335. Fax: (907) 283-3913. E-mail: infor@kpedd.org.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough

Community and Economic Development Division:

This agency promotes and markets the Kenai Peninsula to the world, helps create economic opportunity by creating new jobs, developing new business opportunities and performing economic research and analysis. The agency leverages borough and community investments through grant programs. Business Manager Jack Brown said the CEDD had exceeded expectations during 2003.

In 2004, the CEDD expects to begin providing industry-specific training, according to Brown. An example is training planned for processors and fishers in marketing, processing and business plan development. The first class of this sort will be done with help from the Alaska Manufacturing Association. In late September, CEDD will offer another class to fishers and small processors through Kenai Peninsula Collage.

Other efforts include recent formation of a timber cooperative that is seeking federal funding for a veneer plant. That project, Brown said, would depend on the supply of timber.

The CEDD will promote a food fair, "The Taste of the Kenai," which will be held May 14,15 and 16.

Location: 43335 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite 16, Soldotna, 99669. Telephone: (907) 262-6355. Fax: (907) 262-6762.

The Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center:

The agency is an information resource for small business, providing research, web-based information and training to SBDC counselors and their small business clients.

In the six years he has been director, the agency has helped secure an average of $2 million to $3 million in loans to small businesses, said Mark Gregory.

Location: 43335 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite 16, Soldotna, 99669. Telephone: 262-6355. Fax: (907) 262-6762.

The Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council:

The agency is partially funded by the borough and markets the peninsula as a tourist destination for the tourist industry. It pays special attention to the unincorporated areas and smaller communities. This year, the council has received a $120,000 grant from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Aud Waleszek, director of the marketing council, said 2003 was a good year for the KPTMC.

"We grew by leaps and bounds," she said. "Our goal was to totally kick-start this organization again, to build up a team and build up membership."

Waleszek said she attended various trade shows, including that of the National Travel Association in Charlotte, N.C., where she said she met with 30 separate tour operators interested in Alaska, and one sponsored by the Alaska Travel Industry Association, held in Anchorage, where she had 21 separate appointments with international tour operators from more than a dozen countries.

Location: 14896 Kenai Spur Highway, Suite 106A, Kenai 99611. Telephone: (907) 283-3850. Fax: (907) 283-3913. E- mail: info@kenaipeninsula.org.

City of Kenai

Casey Reynolds works as the city of Kenai's economic development director. Reynolds came to the city in August of 2003 through a grant from the federal AmeriCorps Vista program, which seeks to stimulate community and economic development.

In his time on the job, Reynolds has worked with the city and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce to create a Kenai economic development commission, which is tasked with finding development opportunities for the city. The 23-member committee also will suggest a use for a large piece of valuable property located in the heart of Kenai and overlooking the mouth of the Kenai River.

The commission meets every other Monday at the PRISM building on Marathon Road in Kenai.

For more information, contact the city of Kenai at 283-7535.



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