Economic development group enters new stage

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A program to promote economic development in the city of Kenai entered a new phase Monday.

A newly formed steering committee for the Kenai Economic Development Strategy started meeting to execute an economic development plan that has been in the planning stages for more than a year.

"I think there's a good group of community members that care about what's going on in Kenai," said Andy Varner, economic development project coordinator for the city of Kenai.

Monday's meeting was an introduction of the next phase of the KEDS project to the new committee, Varner said.

While the borough has economic development programs designed to promote various aspects of the borough, Varner said this project is unique because it is specifically aimed at promoting the city of Kenai.

The KEDS strategy targets a variety of areas key to economic growth such as developing a city center called Millennium Square, encouraging entrepreneurship and marketing the city of Kenai as a year-round destination.

The city received a VISTA grant to start a three-year economic development program. The program is halfway completed, Varner said. A committee recently completed the KEDS plan. The new group now will put it into action. Varner said the intent is to develop a sustainable project that can continue beyond the initial three-year period.

"It's a worthwhile endeavor to have a citizens group come together to see what can be done to stimulate the local economy," said Rick Baldwin, a Kenai attorney and member of the steering committee.

Kenai mayor and member of the steering committee, Pat Porter, said she is eager to see the goals set by the original committee implemented.

"I think it's very possible," she said. "I don't think there's a town around that couldn't use improvement."

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