Reader supports mining development

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Good paying jobs come from industries that have a good margin of profit and, where often times required, skilled workers. Does the fishing industry match these criteria? No, commercial fishing needs skilled workers, but the margin of profit is not there. The tourist industry does not need highly skilled workers and the profit margin varies widely. Government? Fast food? Retail? Etc.?

The Kenai-Soldotna area developed because there was an industry (oil) needing local skilled workers. Now the need for those skilled workers is dropping, and the workers that are here are reaching retirement age. Young replacement skilled workers are not locating here. This is reflected in the borough school enrollment. Also, the borough is having problems with an increasing number of tax exempt (senior exemption) properties. If it was not for tourism (low pay), this area would have stagnated.

If you want your kids and grandkids to stay in the area, then it is necessary that there be good jobs for them. I have kids and grandkids that I want to stay near, and I want them to have homes, not possible at hamburger flipping wages.

If you want the standard of living in the area to remain or improve then you need good jobs for the population. Good jobs come from value-added industry (oil, metals and coal). Fishing and timber are renewable, but they have never proved to be stable community jobs. Look at the local cannery that is now a shopping mall. Manufacturing? We had manufacturing when there was a resource (oil) that could be converted (fertilizer and refining). There were two refineries and a chemical plant in the area with well-paying jobs. Now what is there? One refinery talking about the shortage of crude oil.

Value-added industry needs a planning period of many years. It is not like opening a small business that requires a short planning period. Plants need to be constructed, providing well-paying, short-term jobs.

Value industries need to be regulated for the long-term good of the community but the regulations need to be fair and stable for everyone. To keep flopping around because someone cannot control their spending or the speculation of a problem will cause a lack of long-term projects and jobs.

With good, stable regulations, I support the development of mining (metals, coal, etc.) in Southcentral Alaska, for the long-term good of the people.

Will Hightower


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