Business forum slated for Friday

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2004

The best and brightest in local business ideas will be discussed Friday at Kenai Peninsula College during the annual Kenai Peninsula Opportunities Forum, sponsored by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District.

According to KPEDD Executive Director John Parker, the forum is a way to both highlight existing business opportunities as well as explore those on the horizon.

"We're kind of painting both sides of the picture," Parker said.

The forum will include a number of speakers from the peninsula's business community, with each speaker's remarks followed by "breakout" sessions where attendees can further discuss related topics.

Parker said the speakers, who range from inventors to economic development professionals, represent both the present and future of the area's economy.

"We chose those people for two reasons, one because they've already developed opportunities in the community, but also because they're visionary people," Parker said.

The speakers will include keynote speaker Jeff Staser, federal co-chair of the Denali Commission; Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Pete Sprague; Central Peninsula Health Centers Executive Director Stan Steadman; Cohoe Bakery owner Sherry Karnikis; borough Business Development Manager Jack Brown; Kenai Landing developer John Faulkner; Mountain Goat Aircraft president Bill Montagne; Homer Library Project co-chair Nancy Lord; Four Seasons Marine and Tours president (Seward) Tom Tougas; Alaska Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Al Poindexter; and borough oil and gas liaison Bill Popp.

Parker said he expects the speakers to generate quite a bit of discussion among forum participants. Montagne, for example, has developed a new aircraft called the "Mountain Goat," that Parker described as a "super-Super Cub," that is capable of flying at both faster and slower speeds than the famous Bush plane.

Montagne's plane will be on display for forum participants to view, and Parker said the plane likely will be a hot topic of conversation.

"It's a really neat aircraft," he said.

Also likely to generate a lot of talk will be Popp's presentation on potential for a large gold mine near Lake Iliamna. Parker said Popp will discuss the potential impact the new mine which could end up being the largest in North America could have for peninsula businesses.

"The potential for business spinoffs (from the mine) is huge," Parker said.

In addition to future opportunities, one of the main goals of the forum is to get people talking about opportunities that already may be available on the peninsula but currently are not being taken advantage of.

"Hopefully, people will be stimulated by the ideas," he said. "We want to get people started thinking about the opportunities that are already around them."

Besides the speakers and breakout sessions, Parker said the results of the KPEDD's Economic Ideas contest also will be announced during the forum. The contest, which Parker said attracted about 100 entries, will award cash prizes for outstanding new ideas for stimulating economic growth in the area something he said was not an easy choice.

"We had quite a few interesting ideas," he said.

The all-day event gets under way at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to run until 5 p.m. Parker said anyone who wishes to attend is invited.

"There's a little bit of something for everybody," he said.

EDD forum schedule

The following is the Peninsula Opportunities Forum schedule for Friday at Kenai Peninsula College.

8:30 to 9 a.m. Registration.

9:15 a.m. Welcome: John E. Parker, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, Inc.; Pete Sprague, president, borough assembly; Cara Steadman, national anthem.

9:30 to 9:50 a.m. Health industry: Stan Steadman, executive director, Central Peninsula Health Centers Inc.

10 to 10:20 a.m. Women in business: Sherry Karnikis, owner of Cohoe Micro Bakery in Kasilof, makers of Alaskan Salmon Snackers canine treats.

10:30 to 10:50 a.m. Commercial fishing: Jack Brown, business development manager, borough Community and Economic Development Division.

11 to 11:20 a.m. Tourism: John Faulkner, owner of Land's End Resort, partner in Kenai Landing.

11:30 to 11:50 a.m. Developer: Bill Montagne, owner and president of Mountain Goat Aircraft.

Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch and keynote speaker: Jeff Staser, federal co-chair of the Denali Commission.

1:10 to 1:30 p.m. Homer new library project capital committee: Nancy Lord, co-chair of the Library Project Committee.

1:40 to 2 p.m. Seward Community: Tom Tougas, licensee of Hertz Car Rental in Seward and owner and president of Four Seasons Marine and Tours.

2:10 to 2:30 p.m. Agriculture: Al Poindexter, executive director of the Alaska Association of Conservation Districts.

2:30 to 3 p.m. Oil and gas industry: Bill Popp, borough oil and gas liaison.

3 to 3:15 p.m. Afternoon coffee break.

3:15 to 5 p.m. Workshop group discussions.

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