Industry gets its own day

Posted: Friday, August 25, 2006

The end of August means it’s time once again to honor the Kenai Peninsula’s biggest industries — oil and gas, commercial fishing and tourism — as part of the annual Industry Appreciation Day.

This year’s event, which will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Kenai Green Strip, will give away free food, provide games and prizes to children and honor several individuals and businesses with awards, in addition to honoring the big three industries.

Bill Popp, oil, gas and mining liaison for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said the oil and gas industry is vital to the the peninsula.

“It provides high paying jobs and puts a lot of dollars into our local economy,” he said.

Popp said the hydrocarbon industry, which includes oil and gas exploration and producing companies and value-added manufacturing plants, account for one out of every four property tax dollars collected by the borough.

“Oil and gas makes up 7.5 percent of the total employment in the borough, but that 7.5 percent generates about 19 percent of our total reported payroll,” he said.

Also, Popp said compared to the borough median wage of $35,000, the median wage for an employee of the oil and gas industry was roughly $89,000 a year.

Commercial fishing is another essential industry to the borough. According to “Situations and Prospects,” which details economic trends for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, in 2004, the commercial fishing industry harvested 67,301,637 pounds of sockeye salmon, 17,997,680 pounds of halibut and 10,390,004 pounds of sable fish, also known as black cod.

Shanon Hamrick, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council, said her industry is equally important to the borough.

“Tourism is a sustainable and renewable resource and the fastest growing industry in the borough,” she said.

Hamrick said tourism accounts for a quarter of the taxable sales in the borough, as well as 24 percent of all business licenses in the borough.

Saturday’s event is free and open to the public. Sen. Ted Stevens and a host of other political dignities will be in attendance.

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