Celebration to honor industry

Gov. Murkowski plans to join fun at the Kenai Park Strip on Saturday

Posted: Friday, August 26, 2005

What started off as an afternoon of free hot dogs and hamburgers to honor the Kenai Peninsula’s oil and gas industry has turned into much more 14 years later.

This year’s Industry Appreciation Day will honor the peninsula’s three major industries, give away some awards and prizes, feature plenty of games, plenty of free food and a visit from Gov. Frank Murkowski.

The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Kenai Park Strip.

“We’re real proud of the day,” Jack Brown, chair of the Industry Appreciation Day committee, said at Wednesday’s Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Brown explained that the event started 14 years ago to honor the oil and gas industry — during a period that was a real down time for the industry. Over the years, it turned into a larger event that gave awards to a variety of industries on the peninsula, including commercial fishing, tourism and the oil and gas support industry, he said.

This year, the 25-person committee that organizes the event asked the community for nominations of businesses to honor this year. Winners will be honored Saturday.

To give an idea of how important the oil and gas, commercial fishing and tourism industries are to the Kenai Peninsula, three people threw out some statistics at Wednesday’s chamber luncheon.

Bill Popp, oil, gas and mining liaison for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said 7.7 percent of the total employment in the borough is from the hydrocarbon industry.

This includes the value-added manufacturing plants and the oil and gas exploration and producing companies. Popp said the industry generated about $111 million in reported payroll in 2004 — 18 percent of the total reported payrolls in the borough.

Roland Maw, executive director of United Cook Inlet Drift Association, said on average about three truck loads of fish leave the peninsula every day.

This plays a big role in lowering the cost of transporting goods to the central peninsula area, he said.

“That is a huge benefit to this economy,” he said.

Shanon Hamrick, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council, said 14 percent of taxable sales in the borough in 2003 were directly or indirectly attributed to tourism.

Murkowski will be on hand to sign House Bill 178, which allows the use of vanity and custom license plates on commercial vehicles.

Saturday’s event is free and open to the public.

Awards will be given for most outstanding company, most outstanding support company and most outstanding individual. In addition, there will be an award given in honor of Don Gilman for service to the community. An award will be given for most outstanding individual in the commercial fishing industry in honor of Drew Scalzi.

“This is a day honoring the companies and the economic contributions of companies and their employees,” Brown said.

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