ECON 919

This week on Econ 919: kombucha. No, not that scary thing your friend's wife has steeping in a jar above the refrigerator, but commercially brewed kombucha, a fermented, but non alcoholic, sparkling tea.
    The popular acceptance of the refreshing drink has seen it to go from home-brew oddity to store shelves in the last couple of decades. And now it’s coming to the Central Peninsula’s first kombucha tap room, which is opening tomorrow in downtown Kenai.


The public comment period for a draft environmental impact statement on the AK LNG project closed this week, but not before the Mat-Su borough filed yet another motion asking federal regulators to again review the possibility of locating the terminus of the cross-state natural gas line at Port MacKenzie.




Between all the mudslinging and negative social media ads, some of the candidates for borough assembly have actually taken the time to talk about their thoughts on one of the ballot propositions voters will decide in October.



On this week's Econ 919, we visit with Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen about the city's proposal to expand its boundaries by about 3.8 square miles through annexation.

Correction: The annexation public hearing is being held at 2 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Soldotna High School auditorium.

Information on Soldotna's annexation petition can be found on the city's website.

The U.S. Senate is on recess this month and Senator Lisa Murkowski has been making the rounds across the state, including stops on the Kenai. Last week, she was in Soldotna to speak with the Alaska Municipal League.

When you think of the value of farmers markets, what likely comes to mind is fresh, local produce, where you can meet the people who grew it just down the road from where it’s sold.

And, sure, it’s commerce, so there’s money involved. But shoppers might not be thinking about everything they’re supporting when they buy that zucchini or jar of jam.

In honor of Aug. 4 through 10 being national Farmers Market Week, let’s take a look at the economics of farmers markets.


The latest LNG project proposed on the Kenai is the Kenai Cool Down Project. It’s currently going through the federal review process and a public comment period is now open for the environmental review.





Municipalities all over the country go at marketing themselves in different ways. Sometimes it’s in a specific direction, like tourism. Or their efforts are aimed at trying to court new businesses into town. In Kenai, those sorts of questions are just starting to get tossed around.



This week, we look at the numbers surrounding the Swan Lake Fire that’s been burning northeast of Sterling for over six weeks now.


We told you about the borough assembly putting a bed tax question on the ballot earlier this week, but what do the cities around the borough think of the bed tax voters will decide on this fall?




This week, getting to know the latest advocacy group trying to leave its mark on Alaska’s energy sector.



This week: the borough’s land trust fund. It was a bit of a political football last year. Sitting with around $7.5 million, there was some interest in using that account to fund education or balance the borough budget or both. Those efforts from borough administration failed to get past the assembly.


    The Kenai City Council passed a resolution this week — after much debate and many amendments — essentially supporting Assemblyman Dale Bagley’s latest attempt to have a bed tax approved, first by the assembly, and then the voters.

Former Kenai City Councilman Duane Bannock, now associated with the Uptown Motel, came before the council to express his extreme displeasure over Bagley’s proposal and the city’s potential support. 


It was Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday. Since 2007, the first Tuesday in May has been set aside to shine a light on the slowly, but steadily growing ag industry in the state.



It’s not super rare around the Kenai, but a home sale of a million dollars does get ones’ attention. That tidbit came up during our semi-regular talk with Marti Pepper, an independent agent with Redoubt Realty, who dropped by the studios to go over the first quarter of 2019.

“Okay, so what's interesting in the first quarter, which is January through March, the central Peninsula, the average sales price of a home went up by about $12,000. in Anchorage, it went down. And in the lower Kenai, Seward, Homer it went down. 


The city of Soldotna has wrestled with how to handle the new industry in city limits since voters statewide approved commercial and recreational uses back in 2014.



  The snow is all but gone and salmon are already lining up to take your lure — yes, it’s springtime on The Kenai, and that means the start of … construction season. But that’s not why we’re hear today, we’re here to learn about the economics of outdoor recreation, that other thing we do in the summer. 


Alaska has a long history of agriculture, but it’s always lingered in the background behind fishing and more recently, oil and gas as a mainstay in the economy. The governor’s proposed budget includes numerous cuts that would affect agriculture across the state and could even make some parts of the ag economy go away altogether.




When the State of Alaska approved on-site consumption of marijuana in cannabis stores, it shifted the onus to local municipalities, which can choose to further regulate it. This week the Kenai City Council took the first steps to do just that, tasking the city attorney with drawing up a draft ordinance and looping in the planning and zoning commission.

But some members and at least one store owner aren’t convinced on-site consumption is going to be the next big thing, despite Alaska being the first state to legalize it.


This week: small business assistance through...your local library. Let’s say you run a small business and it’s time to really spiff it up: logos, website, all the stuff a brand needs. But, that’s not your thing. And farming it out isn’t in the books. That’s where a new program through many of Alaska’s public libraries, including three on the Peninsula, come in.




This week, we spin the microphone around so to speak, and take a look at what Governor Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal for public broadcasting would look like here at KDLL.




This week: The Census. Since 1790, the federal government has taken a head count of sorts, in its decennial census. The data that come from the census decide voting districts, but also have a real economic impact, especially in Alaska, says Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Executive Director Tim Dillon. He’s part of the group that will work to organize taking the census on the Peninsula next year.



Work continues apace on an expansion project at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna updating the obstetrics wing and adding a catheterization lab. Planning began on the project more than two years ago.



Part two of our preview of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District's Industry Outlook Forum, which will be held Wednesday in Homer.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Outlook Forum is coming up on Jan. 9. Presented by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, the forum will be held in Homer this year. I spoke with K-PEDD's executive director Tim Dillon about the day-long gathering.