Today the Athens Messenger embarks on a yearlong partnership with ACEnet, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, in celebration of the business incubator’s 30th anniversary.

The Athens Messenger has a proud tradition of being an advocate for and partner in area economic development from major highway improvements to the expansion of the Ohio University airport.

For the past three decades, ACEnet — our neighbor down the hill from us along Columbus Road — has been quietly assisting hundreds of area entrepreneurs put their dreams into action and a paycheck in their pockets.

ACEnet has a national reputation as a successful business incubator — primarily helping to develop specialty food product lines — and some of their clients have graduated to enjoy both national and international success.

However, many local residents who enjoy ACEnet client products and establishments don’t always know the backstory and connect all of the dots in the local food business ecosystem.

So, when ACEnet President Angie Maiden approached us this fall about partnering with ACEnet to raise public awareness, we were instantly intrigued by the idea.

We created a yearlong marketing plan using our APG Media of Ohio publications in the region, social media and our websites. We then began reaching out to and talking with ACEnet’s key partners in the business community, current clients and suppliers to create sponsorship opportunities and engage them in the process.

It’s been an enjoyable — and very busy — couple of weeks pulling all of this together and getting ready to share the results with Athens Messenger readers and the social media audiences of several organizations.

Inside today’s edition, we present the January product of the month. We look for our readers to not only try the products themselves but share the story within their own social networks. The goal is to introduce as many people as possible to new products and flavors from businesses they might not realize are operating right here in our diverse and vibrant community.

We hope readers look forward to the beginning of each month as each new product is revealed. We’ll also be presenting an opportunity for local businesses to be selected each quarter to receive a visit from the ACEnet Kitchen Caravan and treat employees to a taste testing event featuring products made by ACEnet clients. There will be many other events associated with this 30th anniversary and The Messenger is proud to be ACEnet’s partner as they begin their next chapter of business development and growth. We hope these stories and events fuel the community’s desire to get involved and participate in this yearlong celebration of homegrown business success.

jhiggins@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @joehmessenger

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