What is it about Anchor Point that has five new businesses opening up in the Kenai Peninsula's westernmost community?
Lower utility costs because of the availability of natural gas was the first explanation given by Bryan Zak, regional director for the South West Alaska Small Business Development Center and also a member of the Homer City Council.
To prove his point, Zak referenced a conversation he had with one Anchor Point building owner.
"He thought he'd not say anything for the first month because he was sure a mistake had been made, but he was saving like 90 percent of what his fuel oil and propane bill had been before natural gas," said Zak.
"The other factor would be that Anchor Point does have some space that is maybe a little more affordable than space in Homer," he said.
In addition, there are lower interest rates available for loans "so some people feel confident enough to go ahead whereas in 2009, because of the pull-back on the economy, they were a little bit afraid to take the risk and go into owning their own small business," said Zak.
Jennifer Henley, a board member of Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, said, "Anchor Point is booming and we're very excited."
She credits a community attitude for the expansion.
"There's a lot of people in Anchor Point that want to get up and do stuff," said Henley.
Coastal Realty's Mary Trimble said the new businesses are a sign of "people maybe trying to do a little more."
Trimble isn't limiting that to Anchor Point residents.
"We used to get so many people buying recreational and retirement property and I'd say we've had more inquiries along that line in the last couple of months, which is very encouraging," said Trimble.
"A lot of those are Anchorage people or even people from Outside that want to have maybe the good months up here when they retire. But don't want to move up here permanently. It's kind of like the dream of getting the best of Alaska," she said.
Zak doesn't believe "it's just a boom for Anchor Point. We see some movement here in Homer, also." With natural gas coming to the southern peninsula, Zak believes "we are going to see an additional benefit immediately here by next winter when I believe most Homer businesses will be receiving the same utility rate for heat if they're on natural gas as (businesses) do in Anchor Point."
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.