Just when it seemed that the words "Kenai Wild" couldn't be uttered enough around the Kenai Peninsula Borough, it seems that the salmon branding program aimed at revitalizing the Cook Inlet sockeye salmon commercial fishing industry has gotten a broader audience.
The National Association of Counties, the organization that represents U.S. counties, awarded the borough its 2003 Achievement Award for its hand in the Cook Inlet Salmon Branding program.
"The borough and the branding program appreciate the award very much," said Borough Mayor Dale Bagley.
The borough was named among nearly 90 counties in 25 states nationwide to be recognized for innovative county government programs, and was the only Alaska borough to be recognized.
The program was recognized for its efforts to create long-term economic development, said borough assembly member Betty Glick. She nominated the branding program for the award and worked with borough business development manager Jack Brown to put together an application package.
"When I became involved with the NACO again after joining the assembly last year, I saw in some of the paperwork that they were accepting applications for the achievement award," she said. "I looked at that and was like, 'gee whiz, we have Kenai Wild and they are a really good program.'"
Branding program officials were proud of the recognition and said it will have far-reaching positive impacts on the program's growth.
"We think it's really great to get national recognition for our program," said Cook Inlet Salmon Branding Inc. board president Mark Powell. "Each time that we get this kind of exposure, it's hard to measure it, but it always helps in recognition of our brand name."
In a letter to borough officials, NACO executive director Larry Naake said the award gives member communities a view of what fellow counties are doing.
"In addition to giving us an opportunity to formally recognize effective and creative programs, this program enhances our awareness of county activities and allows us to share valuable information with other counties throughout the nation," Naake said.
Brown, who also is a CISB board member, said the national recognition the program will receive will help in acquiring future grant funding and in establishing marketplace recognition of the Kenai Wild brand.
"Believe me, we're going to use it," he said.
Both Brown and Glick pointed out that the award goes a long way toward raising national awareness of what Alaska has to offer to the country's economy.
"This not only helps us. It helps all of the salmon branding initiatives in the state," Brown said.
"Anytime we can do something to put the spotlight on Alaska or on the borough, I think we should," Glick said.
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