A year of change

Since new local ownership took over last October, the VBJ has seen a wealth of new beginnings

John McDonagh is publisher of the Vancouver Business Journal.
The last year has brought significant change to the Vancouver Business Journal and offered our new ownership all the challenges of a first year business. We think we succeeded most of the time as we took on the challenges, though much of our time was spent addressing those things we knew needed to change. Have the changes been for the better? Based on feedback from readers, we’re encouraged.

The most significant change we’ve instituted may be represented by the political candidate endorsements found in today’s edition for the positions of Port of Vancouver and Clark County Commissioners. A quick search of the archives suggests this is likely the first time the VBJ has taken a position on who would best serve the business community in an elected position. We see our role and opportunity in the political process as one of clarifying issues relative to the business community and identifying candidates who have an understanding of business needs and of the consequences of government decisions born by business. We believe all constituents should be served by government and so will use the opinion pages of the Vancouver Business Journal to share our beliefs about which issues and candidates honor business in that balancing effort. This step is emblematic of other extensive changes we’ve implemented in the last year to provide a credible and relevant business journal for Southwest Washington.

Re-focusing the content of the publication back onto the local business community was without a doubt the most significant change we’ve made. Time and again business owners told us they no longer read the Vancouver Business Journal because they found little of interest to them. Today, those same business owners are surprised to find the entire publication carrying a local focus each edition. The expectation of the local business journal is to provide news and information relevant to the local business community. That has been our mission for the last year and we pledge to maintain that focus.

Additional content changes have to do with the sectors of the business community covered and how we present them to you in each issue. Since January, we have had a predictable content calendar including our "Focus" sections representing the six business sectors most active in the local business marketplace: Design & Construction, Real Estate & Development, Innovation & Technology, Banking & Finance, Workforce Development and Professional Services.

Many of the contributing writers and columnists are also new this year. We have a dynamic, vibrant business community and we believe it necessary to provide a wide variety of voices from the community within the pages of the Journal.

The most obvious change we made was to the look of the product itself. That challenge fell to our graphic designer Teddy Karis, who gave the product a crisp feel and contemporary, colorful look. Her creative use of type and color has lent personality and renewed life to a product that was clearly suffering from neglect.

One of the things a community does is celebrate the accomplishments of its members and we’ve found in the last year that is no different for a business community. The Business Growth Awards last spring recognized five businesses for their year over year growth.

This past July, tied to our annual Top Projects magazine in which the top 25 construction/development projects are ranked, we hosted the owners, contractors and subs to celebrate the year’s work and highlight the top five projects.

These changes have been the work of dedicated and passionate staffers. We ask much of them and thank them not nearly often enough. Collectively we’ve set a very high standard of performance through these changes and have done so in a short period of time. While the staff has our eternal gratitude for work well done, it is your continued readership that is the real reward.

The changes we implemented in 2005 were not simply for the sake of change, instead, to respond directly to your requests and necessary if this journal was to survive. From your reaction, we know the changes have been welcomed. We’ll continue to refine the product and are dependent on you to let us know how we are doing. It’s your business community and we’re committed to documenting it in your Vancouver Business Journal.

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