At the Soldotna City Council meeting Wednesday night, City Planner John Czarneski gave a lengthy report on the city’s comprehensive plan. He began with the economic development impacts the plan has had.
“The plan itself, you may recall, is broken up into nine unique areas of interest or planning elements. And each of the plan elements had a guiding vision that was developed for the plan. For economic development, the plan was to expand healthcare and educational opportunities, expand year-round tourism and recreational opportunities. Incorporate the river as a marketable asset and resource, promote a pedestrian friendly environment and a focused downtown. So that was the vision for economic development.”
To facilitate growth, some codes were changed.
“Recent code changes were made to encourage this for food trucks and other vendors. We've tried to ease their ability to do business in the city. And based on the last couple years it seems it's done really well. A lot of our events have multiple vendors.”)
Another goal was to use incentives to encourage land owners to come into compliance with new codes and to improve the aesthetics of the community.
“One way to do that is through our storefront improvement program, and that's been running for a number of years. And just to provide you with a little update on it, The last project award was for the Blockbuster, the former Blockbuster building. And with that award, the city has put toward that storefront program is $84,000. And that has generated over $375,000 in private investment in storefronts.”
Czarneski said that his office regularly meets with local business owners about those incentives and other ways the city can facilitate success. He added that the city participated in last year’s “Start-Up Week” for the first time in an effort to support local business.