Whitaker Publishing, LLC released the first issue of Biz 417, a new bimonthly magazine covering the local business scene and the professionals who power it in Springfield, MO and the surrounding Southwest Missouri region served by the 417 area code.
Partially born out of "Generation Next," a July 2014 feature in Whitaker-produced lifestyle magazine 417 profiling up-and-coming business leaders in the region, Biz 417 is designed to provide "networking in print," fostering connections between members of the business community, Whitaker Publishing president Gary Whitaker tells Folio:.
"We got feedback—not only from our readers but from the business community—saying, 'I hope you do more of this,'" Whitaker says. "We decided that there was a place beyond the daily business news to do more personality-driven profiles of the people behind businesses and the young people who are about to take over. That ended up being the backbone of the business magazine."
To build up a subscriber base, 417 sent letters to "VIP-list" decision makers, promising inclusion in a "founding subscribers" list printed in each of the first year's issues in exchange for the purchase of a $9.99 one-year, six issue subscription. Prior to the release of the first issue, over 1,000 business leaders had signed up.
"Business leaders will want to read it because they want to know who's coming up next. The magazine appeals to them because it connects them in print with who they need to be doing business with in the future," continues Whitaker. "In every story, there is a takeaway, some sort of business lesson to be learned or acted upon."
About 40 pages of advertising space in the 100-page November/December issue were sold by 417's existing sales staff. New hires include editor Claire Porter, as well as a designer, ad production graphic designer and a marketing professional who will guide public relations, social media and live events for the magazine.
A major focus of the new magazine will be networking events, some produced by Biz 417.
"We're starting something called B-School Breakfast, where the people featured in our cover story will do a panel discussion at a pretty high-energy, raucous breakfast. We're trying to break the mold of the typical dull business mixer," says Whitaker.
The networking functions of the print magazine will also extend to the website, which will feature an all-inclusive calendar of local business events.
"The backbone of the website will be a calendar of every networking, chamber of commerce, Rotary or lunch and learn event," Whitaker says. "It's segmented by something in the morning, something you can do over the lunch hour, something you can do after hours. It's an all-inclusive networking mega-calendar."
Ultimately, Whitaker describes the magazine as a curated selection of business advice, business news, and the quintessential guide to networking in "417-land."