This week The Athens Messenger and its parent company, APG Media of Ohio, will be throwing our big launch party for our new Events division.

The VIP Culinary Experience at Hocking College with Chef Alfonso on Wednesday night and the Taste of Home Cooking School with vendor village on Thursday night at Stuart’s Opera House.

Our events and marketing director, Andrea Lewis, has been working hard to plan these two events — which represent our first foray into the events world. True, The Athens Messenger has been a sponsor of other events for decades. Now, we’re going to try our hand at hosting some of our own and we hope they’re well-received and supported by readers and other community members.

Why? Because we’re in a position to dedicate some resources to the task and because we’d like to see more diverse entertainment options for our communities. As the year moves forward, we will be looking for other opportunities to create experiences that appeal to a wide variety of people. We don’t want our readers to always have to travel to Columbus or Parkersburg for new things to do. A number of other local organizations and businesses do a nice job of this already but we are making a full-time commitment to doing this and doing it on a grand scale so more people can participate. Large scale events also provide unique opportunities for our marketing clients to get involved and get their message out in a fun and memorable way.

Next month we will be partnering with the Ohio Brew Week Festival and the Messenger and Athens News will be co-sponsors of the Last Call event on July 18.

Since we were purchased last year by Adams Publishing Group, you might not know much about our new company other than the fact we also recently purchased the Athens News.

Here are a few facts I’d like to leave with you as takeaways:

* The Athens Messenger has 100 full and part time employees, most of them full-time. We also employ another approximate three to four dozen people as independent contractors to deliver newspapers and act as freelancers.

* We have 27 graphic designers employed in our Athens Messenger office who live throughout the area. The design hub creates approximately 10,000 ads per month for APG products across the country. These jobs exist in Athens only because we saw an opportunity to be intentional about creating the design center here rather than outsource that service from an overseas vendor.

* The Athens Messenger’s print plant handles printing for all of our Ohio papers in APG Media, including The News.

* We haven’t been owned by the now defunct Brown Publishing Company since George W. Bush was in the White House.

* We are owned by Adams Publishing Group — a family-owned business that owns Camping World, Good Sam, Freedom Roads and Adams Outdoor as sibling corporations.

* APG Media of Ohio’s headquarters are not in Texas. They are in Athens. Right here in Southeast Ohio.

* There is no “corporate headquarters” where dozens of people make decisions about your local paper in conference rooms on white boards. Our CEO lives in Minneapolis but decisions about your local paper are made right here.

* Think that “no one reads the paper anymore” or “print advertising doesn’t work”? Negative. APG Media of Ohio employs more than 150 people here in the southern Ohio markets and has a payroll well in excess of $4 million. We paid payroll taxes of more than $430,000 and property taxes in excess of $30,000. In addition, we’ve paid the contractors who deliver our newspapers just under $800,000. This tax money goes directly to our local governments and the millions in paychecks are largely spent by our employees and contractors on goods and services in our local communities. That’s a lot of money circulating in Southeast Ohio for the benefit of everyone here. Unsuccessful and unimportant businesses don’t support that kind of workforce so we appreciate the longtime loyalty of our readers and advertisers as you’re what keeps those dollars circulating from our employees back to other area businesses.

So, if you’re looking for something to do on a nice summer evening — please think about checking out our two culinary events. Specific details about the two events can be found elsewhere in today’s edition and online at www.athensmessenger.com.

As we start down this path, we appreciate your encouragement, your imput and your support as successful events will lead to other opportunities for us to bring some different things to the community for our residents to experience.

Cheers!

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