The Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is seen on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is seen on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai to launch another shop local program

The program would provide vouchers for tourism, travel or hospitality services.

A new economic stimulus program may launch in Kenai this summer that would aim to boost spending at the city’s tourism, travel and hospitality industry.

The program, if approved, would be called “The Second One is On Us!” and would give people who buy a single tourism, travel or hospitality service in Kenai with a participating business a voucher of equal value to be used on a second purchase at that business. That’s according to a memo from Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander to the council, in which he said the goal of the program is to attract new spending in Kenai.

“The program will provide economic support and attract business activity in Kenai during this critical time of recovery from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” Ostrander wrote. “The program would run between July 16, 2021 and September 30, 2021, when residents and businesses may benefit from the program the most.”

As introduced, the city would put $205,600 to the program, which would include $200,000 in direct incentives to shoppers and $5,600 for administrative costs including materials and supplies and a marketing campaign.

The legislation specifically cites the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Kenai businesses and says that the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is “uniquely qualified” to administer the program. Kenai has previously worked with the chamber to offer similar incentive programs, including their “Shop Here All Year” shop local program and a grocery assistance program.

“The success of the City is dependent upon the success of the local economy and its businesses and a program to reward local spending, promote certain Kenai businesses most impacted by the Public Health Emergency, and continue the community’s recovery is in the best interest of the City and its residents,” the legislation says.

The Kenai City Council approved the introduction of the legislation at their June 2 meeting and will hold a public hearing on the program at their June 16 meeting.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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