Taking advantage of opportunities

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Sometimes business success is a matter of seeing opportunities that others overlook. Debra Ruh, the subject of our cover story, saw a chance to create a business niche providing the disabled with better access to technology. Her Goochland County-based company, TecAccess, is our Small Business Success Story of the Year.

Virginia Business started the Small Business Success Story program in 2006 to celebrate the contributions of small businesses to the commonwealth’s economy. This year, we recognize TecAccess, three regional finalists and eight regional semifinalists.

Richmond writer Phaedra Hise reports that TecAccess provides jobs for people with disabilities while helping a wide range of organizations make their Web sites more accessible. TecAccess’ first customers were government agencies, but the private sector now accounts for 60 percent of its clients. Ruh and her staff have been influential in changing the mindset of business leaders about the accessibility of technology.

This issue of Virginia Business also explores unexpected opportunities in other industries, such as real estate and transportation. In our report on Virginia’s Gateway Region, Richmond writer Donna C. Gregory finds that a number of developers have expanded the market for apartments and condos by rehabilitating old warehouses in Petersburg, an industrial city that has fallen on hard times in the past 20 years.

These new living quarters are aiding the revival of Petersburg’s Old Towne at a time when the region is preparing for the influx of thousands of soldiers and civilian employees at nearby Fort Lee.

Likewise, Virginia’s airports are finding opportunities to make the travel experience easier for passengers buffeted by rising air fares and frequent flight delays. Fairfax-based writer Brett Lieberman finds improvements ranging from expanded parking areas to revamped terminals.

Finally, this issue shows what can be accomplished in state government when officials are willing to explore partnerships with the private sector. In our Business Diversity Quarterly Report, writers Lisa Prezioso Linnell and Heather B. Hayes profile Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s secretary of technology. His collaborative approach to problem solving has resulted in arrangements with companies such as Google and Microsoft that provide greater access to data on state Web sites and offer real-time security information at Virginia universities.

Each project capitalized on opportunities few others could see.

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