Seward is the maritime powerhouse of the Kenai Peninsula according to Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District (KPEDD).
At Friday’s Seward Chamber of Commerce luncheon at The Breeze Inn, Dillon walked through several projects and initiatives spearheaded by KPEDD, a regional nonprofit with the goal of enhancing quality of life through responsible and sustainable economic and workforce development. These include micro-loans, business incubation and hosting the annual Industry Outlook Forum.
KPEDD also produces a collection of reports on the Kenai Peninsula and each of the major cities within it, offering a snapshot of the economic health of an area or industry.
“The key that you have to remember is that it’s static,” Dillon said. “It’s a snapshot in time, (this information) is as of December 31, 2017.”
Dillon presented Seward’s 2018 Situations and Prospects Report to the chamber, which highlights a few key socioeconomic and industry related numbers.
Delving into Seward’s role as the ‘Kenai Peninsula’s Maritime Powerhouse,’ Dillon highlighted the Seward Marine Industrial Center, or SMIC, as one of only a few locations in Alaska where large vessels can be maintained and repaired, and the docks of Seward as an income and tax generator.
“Seward was the Peninsula’s top commercial fishery port in 2016,” according to the report. “In 2016, Seward ranked 28th top US port for pounds of commercial fish landed and 25th for value of fish crossing its docks.”
In 2016, about 27 million pounds of commercial fish crossed Seward’s docks, valuing at about $42 million. Based on the numbers from seafood processing in Seward, the state shared nearly $450,000 in state fish taxes with the city in fiscal year 2017.
Moving away from the docks, the report shows that population in Seward dropped by 141 from 2016 to 2017, the largest population loss on the peninsula in that time frame.
In comparison to other areas on the Kenai Peninsula, though, Dillon said that Seward’s population is trending slightly younger and has seen an overall increase in residents compared to five years ago.
“Every community is different,” Dillon said, adding that the insights are useful for local elected officials with the caveat that all of the numbers can change.
“This is a document your council should be familiar with before they decide if they mess with the mill rate, the electrical rate or any fees,” Dillon said. “They should be looking at what’s going on in their community with household incomes, individual incomes, positives, negatives and things of that nature. If they’re not looking, remind them.”
To view any of the other reports produced by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, including the third quarter economic overview of the Kenai Peninsula Borough released Nov. 13, visit www.kpedd.org.