Oct 25, 2013 03:25 PM WV State of Mind
Uncover West Virginia's best-kept secrets
Building a Better West Virginia
When I moved home in 2008, I wanted to create a company that changed perceptions about West Virginia. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. I named my company New South Media, Inc. West Virginia is the southernmost northern state and the northernmost southern state, after all, and I believed it was our time to shine. So my company launched WV LIVING, a statewide lifestyle magazine that quickly grew with subscribers in every state and the largest newsstand presence of any West Virginia publication. WV WEDDINGS Magazine, the state’s first and only bridal publication, soon followed, and then, three years ago, we added MORGANTOWN Magazine, a publication that targets the fastest growing city in West Virginia. We also created a custom publishing arm that produced The Sports and Travel Guide to the Big 12, which sold out on national newsstands from coast to coast, and Explore: Reaching the Summit. Not to mention we are constantly finding new avenues and new audiences for West Virginia’s story.
Which brings us to West Virginia Focus.
You are probably thinking, “Why start another magazine?” As I travel the state—and I have traveled from the southernmost regions in McDowell County to the tippy top of the Northern Panhandle—I’m constantly on the lookout for businesses to champion, stories to tell, and towns to showcase. Those are the stories that find a home in WV LIVING. But I’m often reminded of the other side to this coin. As I travel, I visit places that are struggling against daunting odds. I meet people who have been let down by our school system. I talk with business owners who are frightened and don’t know what tomorrow brings. I spend time with students who have no faith that there will be jobs for them after they graduate.
We have much to be proud of as West Virginians. But we also have issues we need to address and solve. We need to come together to face these issues, one at a time. We need to create a culture that better encourages and supports entrepreneurship. We need to champion our small businesses and give them the tools to grow. We need to look at our policies, legal system, health care, and education in an informed way. We need our leaders to meet in the middle instead of building impenetrable partisan walls. We need them to be public servants, not party servants. The future of our state depends on it.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not affiliated with any political party. I identify myself as an Independent, and I vote according to issues most important to me. I’ve lived in a trailer beside a sewer plant in Two Run in Clay County, as well as a suburban McMansion outside of Washington, D.C. My education began in a government funded Head Start program for low-income children in Wallback, and I’m the first of my family to graduate from college. My relatives have served in the military and have mined our mountains for coal. I know what poverty tastes like, and I know the joys of being able to afford a pair of designer shoes.
And I know West Virginia.
I also know a few things about business. As an entrepreneur and a small business owner, I’ve grown my company every year. I know what it is like to work 100-hour weeks, to pay your employees before yourself, to try to raise educated and thoughtful children, and still have time to put dinner on the table. I know what it is like to be completely overwhelmed, to have doors slammed in your face, only to get up the next day and try, try again. I know what it feels like to fail.
We need to keep building a better West Virginia. And that, quite simply, is the mission of West Virginia Focus. This publication will focus on the issues affecting our state, provide businesses with a toolkit for growth, and champion our success stories while learning from our failures. It will educate, entertain, and empower. It will inspire readers to think and to act
This bi-monthly magazine is for everyone who wants a better and brighter future. If you dream of owning your own business, we’ll help you. If it is your goal to be a corner office partner of a law firm, we’ll help you. If you are a community activist or the CEO of a multinational company, this publication will provide you with the tools to make your mark. West Virginia Focus is for those who represent us in the Legislature as well as the people who voted them there. Our readers are the owners of small businesses—from shops to restaurants to Internet start-ups—and the thought leaders of our state. But no matter what our profession, we all have something in common. We are West Virginians—whether by birth or by choice. And together, we can build a better state.
And that is our focus.
We encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments, but please be advised that any disparaging comments that come to our attention will be removed.