Journal Opinion: New Era at The Business Journal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Publication of the MidApril edition of The Business Journal, which included business succession planning among its topics, coincided with the owner of the publication, the Youngstown Publishing Co., preparing to announce its own succession plan.

Controlling interest in the company, founded in 1984, was sold by Andrea Wood to Sapientia Ventures, an investment firm based in Warren.

“Readers, advertisers and supporters of The Business Journal will continue to receive the same high-quality journalism and uninterrupted business news coverage that they have come to expect. There will be no changes to our staff, whom the new owners recognize as the engine that drives the tenured success we’ve been able to achieve,” Wood said April 11 in announcing the transition.

Wood remains president and publisher and The Business Journal offices will remain headquartered in downtown Youngstown.

The principals of Sapientia Ventures are familiar names in the Mahoning Valley business community. Charles “Chuck” George, whom The Business Journal recognized last year with our Brain Gain Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award, is the founder of Strangpresse, a local company that manufactures extrusion nozzles used in additive manufacturing. His business relationships and expertise are extensive.

“We have long admired the Journal as a cornerstone institution for professionals in the region. Recognizing the immense value it brings to our community, we leapt at the opportunity to invest in this top-tier publication,” George said. “We have complete faith in the talented team led by Andrea, and our vision focuses on building upon their impressive legacy. Together, we aim to continue delivering unparalleled business media to the region.”

George serves on numerous local boards, including the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees, the Oh Wow! Children’s Center and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. His partners in Sapientia, Wiley Runnestrand and Michael Martof, are similarly well-respected local entrepreneurs who are engaged in the community.

In February, Sapientia Ventures announced it would construct a 100,000-square-foot spec building designed for manufacturing and warehousing, the first phase of its planned West Warren Industrial Park. The partnership also owns GreenBoard IT, an electronics recycling company in Warren.  

Succession planning at The Business Journal has been in the works for some time as Wood confronted issues shared by baby boomers as they step away from ownership yet need to see their companies  – and employees – continue to grow and prosper.

Sapientia Ventures represents a classic example of succession planning succeeding. The ownership transition maintains community-based ownership of a community-focused institution while positioning it for the future. The new ownership is in lockstep with our mission – to promote economic development and quality-of-life – and is ideally suited to advance it.