The theme of this year's Economic Outlook Forum for the Kenai Peninsula was, "Working Together to Build our Economy" and the two day conference drew leaders and interested participants from all over the state as well as the Kenai Peninsula.
In his keynote address, U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski pointed to the presence of new smaller companies on the Kenai Peninsula as a model for economic stability and future growth. Although he recognized the ingenuity and creative community effort that has produced such facilities as the Challenger Learning Center, he also cautioned the community not to rest on their laurels.
Referring to the events in Washington D.C. in the Hart Senate Office building, Murkowski said, "To say that it has been inconvenient, would be a drastic understatement. We have been out of our office for over a month, and when we left, we left in a hurry. Which meant we left all our records, computers, check books, and while two of us have been allowed to go back for a few minutes to grab some personal items, that's been it. There's been no mail for over a month, and we may never see that mail. It's put everyone in a chaotic situation, but we're doing the best we can under the circumstances," Murkowski told reporters at press conference prior to his address at Kenai Peninsula College.
Murkowski said that his greatest hope for Alaska's economic future was the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas exploration, "Where else can you find a single national issue with the magnitude of ANWR," asked Murkowski.
On Friday Jeffery Staser, federal co-chair of the Denali Commission told the group that government while government may not be good at economic development, it could build infrastructure and remove impediments that can get in the way of development. Those who were unable to attend the Forum were able to listen and view the activities via the Internet, thanks to students from the communications class at Soldotna High School. The proceedings were recorded live and streamed over the World Wide Web at www.kpedd.org where they can still be viewed by any one interested.
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