30 years later, BCBR remains all about ideas

It began with an idea. Zan Gripman wanted to publish listings of new businesses in Boulder and did so through a new publication, the Boulder Business Report.

That initial offering quickly expanded in scope to include columns, news, data and feature articles analyzing the local economy — bringing a full-fledged business journal to the city.

A few years later, the paper’s scope was expanded geographically to include all of Boulder County (including Broomfield). Ownership changed over the years, from Zan to Fred Ayers to Boulder Business Information Inc., led by Jirka Rysavy, Jerry W. Lewis and Jeff Schott. That’s when I came into the BCBR picture as a reporter and, eventually, assistant editor, minus a five-year stint at the Denver Business Journal.

I worked with Lewis and Schott once again, beginning in 1995, when BBI, Jeff Nuttall and I launched the Northern Colorado Business Report in Fort Collins.

BBI itself was acquired in 2008 by Brown Media Holdings of Ohio. Brown’s bankruptcy in 2010 meant that the Business Report was owned for about five months by a consortium of banks, before Nuttall and I formed BizWest Media LLC to acquire BCBR and sister publications in Northern Colorado and Wyoming in February 2011.

Much has changed over the years. BCBR no longer is dropped for free at dozens of locations throughout Boulder and Broomfield counties. No longer is it mailed for free, either. Instead, we have built a strong base of paid subscriptions and are expanding our locations for paid retail and vending-box distribution.

But it’s still about ideas: ideas for new ways to engage with our readers, be they in print or online. In July, we relaunched our website at www.bcbr.com, providing us with a state-of-the-art digital forum for local business news, data and multimedia content. We will continue to refine the site, adding new features and capabilities, including expanded mobile offerings.

In print, we are exploring some exciting changes and enhancements for 2013, all in an attempt to retain and grow our loyal readership while providing the region’s best coverage of our dynamic, innovative and entrepreneurial economy.

As I meet business leaders from throughout the Boulder Valley, many marvel at how diversified our business has become. Some are surprised that we’re still in business. More than once I’ve had to answer the question, “Is that a going concern?” I always reply politely in the affirmative and inform them of how our business has transformed.

They’re familiar with the print newspaper, of course, but many are unaware of the many other print magazines and directories that we produce, such as Boulder Valley MD, Rocky Mountain Tech, the Green Book, the Giving Guide, the Book of Lists and many others.

They’re amazed at the online content, as well as the daily and weekly newsletters that reach many thousands of readers.

And they’re sometimes surprised at the number of business-oriented events that we produce each year, including awards programs such as the Mercury 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies and the IQ Awards, and informational events such as the Green Summit and the Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference & Forecast.

This “triangle” — touching our readers in print, online and in person — likely will develop several more sides in the months and years ahead. Any media company must remain nimble, and innovative. The aforementioned “mobile” will be of increasing importance, as will new ways to integrate our databases of local companies into our website and our customers’ business models.

We don’t have all of the answers as to how the Boulder County Business Report will evolve in the years ahead. Much of that depends on you, the reader. What needs do you have for local business news and information that aren’t yet being filled? How do you like to receive that information? What suggestions do you have for taking this publication into the coming decades?

Our staff understands that to survive and thrive, we must listen to our readers. Zan Gripman quickly grasped way back in 1982 that Boulder was hungry for local business news and information. She developed a publication that responded to that demand. She listened to her readers.

We will do no less, as we enter our second 30 years.
Explore our history.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-440-4950 or email cwood@ncbr.com.

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