Economic Development is the sustained, concerted actions of policy makers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. The Borough first adopted nonareawide economic development powers in 1986 through the adoption of Ordinance 575. In 1990 the voters approved the adoption of areawide economic development powers by the Borough via Ordinance 772 A, and in 1999 the Assembly adopted Ordinance 1106, establishing an economic development assistance program.
A special revenue fund of the borough was established in order to manage and monitor borough funds received from the state of Alaska commercial passenger vessel (CPV) tax and to ensure that expenditures of funds from that tax are only expended for authorized purposes. Authorized purposes include those purposes which are linked to the impacts of the commercial passenger vessels and the passengers who are subject to the tax. Additionally, expenditures must be solely to pay the cost of service to the vessel or watercraft; and to enhance the safety and efficiency of interstate and foreign commerce.
The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau assembled a series of well received documentary videos titled The Ketchikan Story Project. The films in the series, Ketchikan: A Fish Story, Ketchikan: Our Native Legacy, Ketchikan: The Artists, Ketchikan: The Timber Years, and Ketchikan: The Bush Pilots, give cruise ship passengers and other visitors, a unique window into our culture, lifestyle, and what sets us apart from other ports-of-call along the cruise ship path.
The City of Saxman, located in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, requested and received CPV funds to recarve and install two vital totem poles in Saxman Totem Row Park. The Three Eagles in a Tree Pole and the Blackfish Pole served as recognizable landmarks in the City from 1939 to 2010. The grant also funded much needed biennial totem pole maintenance for the totem poles in the Park.