Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District

Courtesy of KPEDD

Among the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act are pockets of funding that could advance projects on the Kenai Peninsula.

Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, is working with communities and organizations to match projects with available sources of money.


Every few years, the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District steps back and builds a comprehensive economic development strategy, or CEDS — a document of plans and priorities the federal government encourages organizations to have before it distributes funds like coronavirus relief.

Tim Dillon is executive director of the district. He said KPEDD submitted and received approval on its new 2021-2026 CEDS this summer.

Econ 919 — Zoom town

Sep 3, 2021
Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Working from home became the order of the day for many workers last March.

Since then, cities and states around the U.S. have tried to market themselves to remote workers — and their wallets.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula’s older population is larger than it was a decade ago. It’s one of the many trends that emerged in U.S. Census data released earlier this month, which also shows that the peninsula’s population has generally grown, while others, like Anchorage, have seen numbers drop.

Somehow, between helping with the census and distributing tens of millions in Alaska CARES funding, the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District also built a website. 

It’s called “Kenai Peninsula Workforce” and it’s a site for connecting peninsula residents with job opportunities and training. It goes live next week.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is working on updating the borough's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for 2021 to 2026, to aid in planning for the next five years. This helps in directing policy, obtaining and distributing governmental funding, attracting new businesses to the borough, identifying roadblocks to development and, ideally, bettering the quality of life in our neck of the woods.

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

Imagine applying to college, taking college courses and working a full-time job, all while finishing high school. Here’s how Abby Dial does it:

“A lot of coffee," she said, laughing. "I think to-do lists are really important, and having a planner. My schedule, my school schedule, doesn't get mixed up with my work schedule. So I have a planner for school and a planner for work.”

The Alaska CARES program has been live for about a month now. The program is supposed to distribute grants to businesses to help with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with funding that came to the state from the federal government. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he wanted about $150 million to go out within the first 30 days to help keep businesses from going under.

That’s not how it’s worked out so far. Of the nearly two thousand applications submitted by Monday this week, less than 10 percent had been approved. There a handful of problems with the program, but the biggest one is that any small business that got aid through the federal Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Impact Disaster Loan programs is ineligible for it.

Now that the Alaska Legislature and governor have come to an agreement about how federal COVID-19 relief funds will be distributed on the Kenai Peninsula, the final details are being worked out to get that money passed through to communities.

Just under $290 million will be made available to small businesses and certain nonprofit organizations through Alaska CARES grants. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will be the umbrella organization overseeing the grant program and Credit Union One was selected to be the financial institution processing applications and making payments. 

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is tasked with public outreach about how the program will work.

“I know folks have been kind of frustrated over the last couple of months about what was going on and when moneies will become available,” said Tim Dillon, executive director of KPEDD. “For the $290 million that will be out there for small business relief, that is statewide and it’s all in grants. There’s no loan with the potential of it being a grant, it is a straight grant right from the beginning. So we’ve been working through the polices and procedures. And everybody had their ideas on what they thought should happen. And the bottom line was there was a variety of us that said, 'We need to get money and we need to get it to our small businesses and we've got to get it to them ASAP without nine million strings attached to it.'”

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is collecting follow-up information to identify the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses in the borough. This peninsula-wide, confidential survey is live until 7 p.m. Friday, May 1. The overall data will be used to identify the needs of the region to the state and federal governments. An identical version of the survey was conducted last month. This one wants to see how things have changed. Businesses and organizations large and small, in all sectors are welcome to take this survey, even if they didn’t take the first one.

Courtesy of KPEDD

A survey to quantify impacts to Kenai Peninsula businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic shows disheartening results.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District collected responses throughout the borough last week and crunched the numbers over the weekend. Executive Director Tim Dillon says the cheeriest number was participation.

“I was hoping for 250, 300 responses from businesses on the peninsula and, low and behold, we had 721 businesses across the borough respond. I have 45 pages of comments,” Dillon said.

ECON 919 - Developing the Blue Economy

Jan 20, 2020

  This week, we revisit the Kenai Peninsula Industry Outlook Forum. Earlier this week, we reported on efforts by the Kenai Peninsula Borough to expand agriculture opportunities on the Peninsula, but what about all of that ocean around us? Mariculture was a major topic at the forum last week in Seward.


ECON 919 - Industry Outlook Forum

Jan 3, 2020


The annual industry outlook forum is coming up next week. This year’s forum will take place in Seward. The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, along with Chambers of Commerce from Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Seward all work to organize and support the event.



Economic Outlook Forum in Seward this year

Dec 6, 2019

Early in the New Year the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District will present a day-long conference that features business and industry leaders reporting and reflecting on business on the Kenai Peninsula.
    Tuesday nightK-PEDD Executive Director Tim Dillion gave the borough assembly the rundown on the Jan. 8 event.

If you’ve got a business idea you’ve been kicking around, this is the week to see if it could fly. Kenai/Soldotna Startup Week continues through Friday, with a variety of informational events aiming to help tackle the many hurdles facing entrepreneurs. 

This is the second year for the statewide event being held on the central Kenai Peninsula and the offerings have nearly doubled. Devon Gonzalez is helping organize the local startup week. She knows from experience how daunting it can be to start a new business, as she and her husband, Brian, opened Kenai Kombucha in April.

ECON 919 - Peninsula Tourism

Jul 3, 2019


If you hadn’t noticed, they’re here. And with the Kenai river dipnet fishery set to open next week, the flow of tourists through the central peninsula  will get a lot bigger.



ECON 919 - Preparing for the census

Feb 15, 2019


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.


ECON 919 - Kicking off the new fiscal year

Oct 5, 2018


Fiscal Year 2019 began on October 1st. For Tim Dillon, Executive Director at the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, that means a tour, of sorts, around the area, sharing year end financials with city councils and other groups.



On this week's Conversation, host Shaylon Cochran speaks with Stephanie Queen, director of Economic Development and Planning for the city of Soldotna, and Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, about what kinds of jobs and industries might be making their way to central peninsula in the future to compliment established industries like fishing and resource development.