Elizabeth Earl

Report examines five-year outlook for peninsula economy

The Kenai Peninsula’s relatively diverse economy has some room to grow in the next few years, accommodating for lower oil prices and production as well as an aging population.

The most recent Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, compiled by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, reviews some demographic and employment statistics while proposing broad goals for the next five years. The plan will be updated every year but provides a broad framework for the future of the economy, said Rick Roeske, the KPEDD’s executive director.

Borough eliminates funding for CARTS program

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly cut its support for the Central Area Rural Transit System out of its Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

The borough has given funding to the nonprofit since 2001 in support of its operations. The organization, abbreviated to CARTS, provides door-to-door public transportation for a fee to riders who have registered accounts with it. Riders have to notify CARTS 24 hours ahead of time and be ready to go within 15 minutes on either side of the scheduled pickup time.

Assembly shoots down gun range in Seldovia

The power of public comment took down an effort to set up a gun club in a valley near Seldovia.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly considered a resolution May 17 to reclassify a parcel of land near the remote community of Seldovia on the southern Kenai Peninsula as recreational. The Seldovia Sportsmen’s Club, a recreational club, requested the borough reclassify the land so the club could apply to lease it for the purpose of setting up a shooting range.

Division of Parks to sell merchandise to help pay costs, become self-sufficient

Add promotional hats, water bottles, visors and other promotional items to the list of ways Alaska hopes to balance its budget without hiking taxes too high.

The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation got a green light from the Legislature to sell parks-themed merchandise for a profit.

As long as Gov. Bill Walker signs the bill, SB 101, the division can begin ordering merchandise and pricing it to offset the division’s cost of operating.

Support industries feel pinch

The round tables were fringed with people chatting leisurely and exchanging bits of news, like they were on lunch break. A few feet away, two young men ignored the conversation and clicked away on desktop computers. Yet another group stood on the edges of the room, pacing and waiting, their heads snapping up when the fronts doors opened.

All heads turned as soon as Rachel O’Brien called for session participants, and all rose, shuffling slowly toward the back room of the Peninsula Job Center in unison. As soon as the door closed, the room fell silent.

Ordinance would merge two borough departments

Facing decreased revenue from the state, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has proposed merging the Capital Projects Department with its Purchasing and Contracting Department.

The Capital Projects Department handles capital improvement projects in the borough, such as roofing a school or repairing a water-damaged baseball field. Seven permanent staff and some temporary positions for individual projects make up the department.

Teen birth rate declines in Alaska

The number of teenage parents in Alaska is continuing its downward trend.

Nationwide, the birth rate among teenage women 15-19 years old has declined dramatically since 1991, from 61.8 per 1,000 teens to 24.2 out of every 1,000 by 2014, according to a May 3 bulletin issued by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. In Alaska, the rate is higher than the national average — 27.8 per 1,000 teens age 15–19 years — but it has fallen significantly from 42.6 per 1,000 in 2008, according to the bulletin.

Apache to shutter Alaska operations

Apache Corporation, which has been exploring oil and gas resources in the Cook Inlet area, announced recently that it will exit the state.

The Houston, Texas-based corporation has been exploring north of Nikiski since approximately 2010. Apache’s Alaska general manager, John Hendrix, informed the Legislature of the company’s decision.

Smaller commercial salmon harvest forecast for Lower Cook Inlet

Commercial salmon fishermen in Lower Cook Inlet can expect about a quarter of 2015’s harvest in 2016, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s projection.

The Lower Cook Inlet Salmon Fishery Outlook, published Friday, includes both wild runs and returns from the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association’s hatchery projects in the area. The total commercial common property harvest is expected to be 548,000 fish, 10 percent of which will be hatchery fish, according to the projection.

Assembly approves pot rules

The night before entrepreneurs across Alaska were able to apply for marijuana business licenses, the Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly affirmed its local regulations.

With a few exceptions, marijuana businesses in the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be regulated similarly to the way the state has chosen to regulate them.

Number of nonresident guides growing steadily

The number of guides and guiding businesses in Alaska is staying stable but the percentage of nonresidents is still climbing.

Since the state saw a drop in guide participation in 2009, the numbers have stabilized, according to the 2014 license and logbook data published by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in January. In 2014, there were 1,805 licensed guides in Alaska and 132 licensed businesses, with 983 holding a combined license. The majority are in the Southcentral region.

Alaska gender pay gap closing slowly

Women in Alaska earned about 79.1 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned in 2014, according to an analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The analysis, which compared the median weekly earnings for women in various careers across the state, found that women earned a median of $797 weekly compared to the $1,008 median weekly earnings for men. This is a larger disparity than the nationwide average, which has women earning 82.5 percent of men’s median earnings.

Kenai Peninsula scores strong on being affordable

Although the outright price for homes is cheaper in Fairbanks, buying a home may be more affordable overall in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The average price of a home on the peninsula in the first half of 2015 was $265,912, as compared to Fairbanks’ $239,413, according to a December 2015 analysis from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The most expensive homes are in Anchorage, Juneau and Kodiak.

Consultants examine area hospitals

The job is getting serious for the borough’s Healthcare Task Force as members are still trying to determine a purpose and direction.

The task force and members of the public got a first glimpse at the contracted health care consultants’ opinions at the task force’s Feb. 3 meeting. Altogether, the Kenai Peninsula’s three hospitals are in relatively good financial shape but have some work to do to get on track with national trends, they said.

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