Benjamin Jackinsky (left) and Sarah O’Brien work at Already Read on Friday, Feb. 19 in Kenai, Alaska.

Benjamin Jackinsky (left) and Sarah O’Brien work at Already Read on Friday, Feb. 19 in Kenai, Alaska.

Shoppers make the most of program to boost Kenai business

598 people have already participated in Kenai’s shop local program.

Nearly 600 people have participated in Kenai’s “Shop Here All Year in Kenai” shop local program, which went live on Feb. 1 to encourage shopping at Kenai businesses.

During a presentation to the Kenai City Council during their March 3 meeting, Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Executive Director Brittany Brown provided an update on the program, which she said has seen more than $57,000 in vouchers awarded.

The program awards $50 and $100 vouchers to shoppers who spend at least $100 on discretionary items at any store located in Kenai city limits. Those vouchers can then be spent at businesses that have signed up to participate in the program. Vouchers are issued on a first-come, first-served basis until April 1 or when funds run out, and must be spent by April 30. The Kenai City Council approved $350,000 for the program during their Jan. 20 meeting.

Brown said that the $57,050 in vouchers awarded reflected 543 $100 vouchers and 55 $50 vouchers.

As of March 3, businesses with the highest payouts include Louie’s Restaurant, which has $6,300; Three Bears Alaska, which has received $5,600; and Accents, which has received $4,200.

Another program currently being offered by the City of Kenai is a grocery matching program, through which people who spend at least $100 on groceries or necessary household goods at participating businesses can receive a voucher match to be spent at those same businesses.

The Kenai Chamber said Friday that grocery and convenience stores currently signed up to participate in the program include Three Bears, Safeway, Walmart, IGA and Maggie’s General Store.

“With an average of roughly 150 submissions per day now, and the draw of people for the grocery program, we expect to see a significant increase in the amount of money being spent in the community,” Brown wrote in a memo to the council. “We often see now individuals coming into the Visitor Center to just hear about the programs then later that day come back in to participate in both programs so the word is getting out and its drawing people in.”

More information about both programs can be found on the Kenai Chamber’s website at kenaichamber.org.

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

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