Home Depot offers spot of good news

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

It's not the equivalent of a Prudhoe Bay oil discovery or even a new pocket of natural gas in Cook Inlet, but the news that Home Depot will open for business at the site of the old Big Kmart store is certainly welcome.

The Kenai Peninsula has been in need of some good economic tidings. While lots of public officials have been trying to make lemonade out of mostly sour reports layoffs, cuts, more layoffs and more cuts the number of garage sales and real estate listings offer some evidence that the area is not on the brink of any kind of boom. That's, of course, barring the discovery of a large new deposit of gas in the inlet or onshore or an announcement of a natural gas-line spur to Nikiski.

Home Depot's announcement, however, certainly brightens a mostly cloudy economic outlook. Kenai Mayor John Williams sees the addition of the business as holding the potential to help develop a new kind of economy.

After all, as John Simley, the public relations manager for the national retail giant has noted: "We're unique in retail because we sell (things) that improve property value, and higher property value means higher tax appraisals, which contributes to fire departments, police departments and schools."

Beyond those higher appraisals much-needed sales tax dollars for the city of Kenai, the Home Depot store is expected to create as many as 120 jobs, including skilled positions requiring such expertise as carpentry, masonry and plumbing. It is expected to infuse a payroll of between $4 million and $4.5 million into the area's economy.

That's terrific.

The store also will offer goods and services that many peninsula people still travel to Anchorage to receive. Any business that help keeps local dollars in the local economy is good for all businesses.

Home Depot still has lots of refitting, remodeling and renovating to do before it can hang out its open-for-business sign and begin helping peninsula residents on the myriad of home-improvement projects on everyone's to-do list.

Nevertheless, it's not too early for the community to put out the welcome mat for this national retail chain. So, welcome, Home Depot. The peninsula looks forward to your opening.

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