Kenai Chamber of Commerce

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Kenai is pursuing its own shop local program this spring, called “Shop Here All Year in Kenai.”

Much like the program in Soldotna, which ran in November and December, it rewards shoppers who spend  $200 on discretionary purchases in Kenai with $100 vouchers for Kenai businesses. Those who spend $100 will get vouchers for $50.

It was a turbulent year for business owners on the Kenai Peninsula, trying to survive the ecnomic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. What strategies and programs were helpful? What not so much? Brittany Brown, Shanon Davis and Tim Dillon, the executive directors of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce and Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, take a look back and peer into their crystal ball for the year to come.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

“Well, first of all, let’s address the elephant in the room.”

That’s how Mark Hamilton started his talk about Pebble Mine at Wednesday’s joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber Luncheon.

Hamilton is the vice president of external affairs for the Pebble Limited Partnership, the company spearheading the controversial Pebble Mine Project.

That project, now in an advanced exploration stage, would build an open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska, where there are rich mineral deposits. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Brittany Brown identifies getting Kenai and its businesses safely back to normal as both a hurdle and first priority in her first months on the job. But she’s well equipped for remote work, if need be.

“Being in public relations, community relations in rural Alaska, that’s been a lot of my career,” she said. “And it hasn’t always been possible for us to get out there. And, so, a lot of what we did was virtual. … I have a feel for how technology works and how we can really use it to accomplish our goals.”

Redoubt Reporter

Businesses that closed temporarily in March or April have been reopening at various paces for the past several weeks, while public facilities have been a little more hesitant. This week saw a few more facilities reopen to the public, but with some changes.

For example, the Kenai Peninsula Borough buildings reopened Monday during normal business hours, with the exception of the Office of Emergency Management, the Soldotna emergency dispatch center, and the fire and EMS buildings. Visitors are asked to wear cloth masks when they visit and to call ahead to expedite the business they have before they arrive.

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