Opinion

Welcome to THE BIG BOOK

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Print this page by Bernie Niemeier

Last fall, I checked my mailbox one morning to find it stuffed full.  Larger by far than any of the assorted bills, ad mail and bank statements was the September issue of Vanity Fair magazine.  Running some 460 pages, their seventh annual Style Issue was the stuff of which magazine publisher dreams are made.  I asked myself the obvious question, “Why can’t Virginia Business have a big book?”  Well, it turns out that we can — thanks to you, our readers and advertisers, as well as lots of hard work by the magazine’s staff.

So here you have it. THE BIG BOOK is our inaugural compendium of who’s who, who’s big and who’s influencing the economy of the commonwealth.  It is meant to be the go-to guide for most of what matters to business in Virginia.

In 1991, Virginia Business began publishing its annual List of Leaders.  This year, we’ve expanded from 18 industries to 50 lists of the commonwealth’s largest companies in various categories.

This issue also marks our first list of the 50 Most Influential Virginians.  Rather than focusing on just wealth or charitable contributions (although those are certainly factors in determining influence) this list of notable Virginians is based upon our editors’ research into the well-known, the powerful, the prestigious, the well-connected and the well-intended.

To make the list manageable, we decided to limit it to 50 names, excluding politicians and university presidents, who by sheer numbers would crowd out other influential businesspeople and private citizens. We’ve supplemented the Most Influential list with a second list of people On the Move (page 75). You might feel we’ve left out some important names — but who knows?  By next year we may be able to add some new rising stars.

Reporting on economic development has long been a mainstay of our content.  In fact, I’ve long felt that like several other states, Virginia could use an entirely separate annual publication devoted to that topic.  Rather than assume the risk of a new publication, we decided a better approach would be to add to our existing economic development content through expanded regional pages, lists of business development resources and other pertinent content.

Our regional news section normally devotes six pages to six regions. This month we are expanding to 24-pages, four pages per region for all six regions (beginning on page 14).  Each regional section is devoted to economic development, major recent deals and other local statistics.  Despite Virginia’s above-average reputation, the past few years have been recession-wracked for economic developers. Deals still got done, though. Check out the charts and deals in this new annual report for a bit of inspiration.

Just so you won’t think that publisher dreams are entirely mundane, there’s more to this story.  Shortly after my Vanity Fair page-count epiphany, I was in Roanoke for the evening.  I woke up early the next morning dreaming about a formal business event similar to our 25th Anniversary celebration in 2011.  Thus was born the idea for THE BIG BALL.

On March 9, we will be holding a black-tie gala at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate the publication of this month’s issue.  Many thanks are due to our sponsors, VMFA, Dominion, Altria and Capital One.  Their support of the business community helps us all to believe in the art of the possible.

Invited guests will include our 50 Most Influential Virginians, CEOs of our List of Leaders companies, the Virginia Business Legal Elite, our Super CPAs, CFO Award nominees and CEOs from our Best Places to Work in Virginia.  This will be a unique gathering of the commonwealth’s business cognoscenti.  Our hope is to create a highly anticipated annual event celebrating remarkable influence and successful enterprise in Virginia.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to say more about the dedicated work of the magazine staff. They have made this dream a reality. Producing a magazine that’s editorially twice as big as an average issue and selling the number of ads needed to cover the cost is definitely hard work, but it is also a labor of love.  Speaking for the staff at Virginia Business, we are passionate about business and care deeply about the commonwealth.  We hope you enjoy THE BIG BOOK and will consider it our toast to your success! 


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