My long time friend, Dan Smith, editor of Valley Business FRONT, made some inaccurate statements recently about the Chamber’s relationship with [a new] business magazine. Please allow me to clarify.
Dan said that the Chamber contracted with [the magazine] to publish a quarterly Chamber magazine. We did not. We did have preliminary discussions with [the magazine] about publishing our magazine. It wasn’t interested. Prior to making any final decision, we would have put it out for bid. For now, we are not moving forward with that publication.
In our discussions, we learned that [the magazine] has been looking to publish a magazine in the Roanoke region for a number of years, having discussed the idea with many business people as recently as last fall. It has decided to move forward with a monthly publication. It is not a Chamber publication. The Chamber offered the Roanoke staff of [the publication] use of a desk, of which its local writer has not taken advantage. Perhaps this was too generous a gesture causing a misunderstanding of our relationship. The motive behind the gesture, however, is core to the mission of the Chamber, which is to promote business success throughout our region.
Competition is good for business, yet it is not the Chamber’s place to take sides with one business over another. In fact our own publication, published by a local business, saw a drastic loss of ad revenue when Valley Business FRONT began. That’s free competition. The decision by the magazine to launch its publication was not up to the Chamber. When we learned that it was going forward, out of courtesy, we fully intended to reach out to the leaders at Valley Business FRONT and other are publications to let them know about [the magazine’s] decision. Unfortunately, we did not get to have the actual advance conversation with Valley Business FRONT.
The editor and publisher of Valley Business FRONT provide a quality magazine that is well-liked and is expected to continue to be enjoyed in the region. From the Chamber’s perspective, the new business venture was not an implication that current publications were not filling strong niches. Indeed they are.
President, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
(Editor’s note: In Smith’s commentary May 6 on www.fromtheeditr.blogspot.com, he did not say that the chamber “contracted to publish a quarterly chamber magazine.” He said that it had “entered into an alliance with Virginia Business magazine.” Smith insists that is correct. A FRONT blog post that same day at www.morefront.blogspot.com, said “the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce has entered into a contract with Hampton/Richmond-based Virginia Business magazine to produce a business publication in the Roanoke and New River Valleys.” FRONT continues to see this as an alliance, though its depiction as a contractual arrangement was a misunderstanding following a conversation with Joyce Waugh, which we regret.)