The Economic Development District (EDD) has a new executive director on board as of last week he is John Parker, formerly of Nova Scotia. Parker has been involved in economic and business development for some 30 years.
"A lot of my experience has been in northern communities across the Northwest Territories of Canada that have been involved with tourism, oil and gas resources and fisheries all things that will translate well into this area," said Parker. Last week Mr. Parker had a chance to meet the community he will be serving at a reception held at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai. Parker feels that the Kenai Peninsula has great potential for economic development. "It's kind of blown me away, the beauty and the potential of what is here. There is a lot to work with here and I look forward to the challenge to getting on with the job," added Parker.
Parker's wife Maureen will be joining him in a few months after her husband gets established in the local area. Parker said that in looking to future economic development on the Peninsula we should be sure we are exploiting every value added opportunity of the primary oil & gas industry that already exists, then look at secondary opportunities. "To hope that somebody is going to come in on a white horse, and be some new manufacturer that will solve every problem that you have is the wrong way to approach the problem. Obviously you want to work from the community level and build up from the bottom and get as many people pulling in the same direction as possible no matter what the issues are is always a challenge," said Parker. However, preparing for the day when fossil fuels do not play the important role that they do today and looking to the technologies of tomorrow to create future product manufacturing is an opportunity that Parker intends to explore. "In many cases these are opportunities that can be seized upon by existing industry in rural communities, and sometimes you have to look into the crystal ball and seize on these opportunities before someone else does," said Parker.
Parker's first priority is getting to know the people in the community and everyone interested in economic development. The reception at the Challenger Center was the beginning of that step. Catering & More, a new business in Kenai, catered the well-attended event.
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