2016 marks 10 years since I accepted a job offer in Virginia. A decision that pulled me from my Tar Heel roots. A decision I thought was only one stop along a path that would lead me back to my family in Charlotte, North Carolina.

During an early conversation with my new, first boss, he said something that stuck with me. “You’ll either fall in love with this area, or you’ll fall in love. That’s what will keep you here.”

Fast forward to now, on this Sunday morning, as I write my first Editor’s Letter for Lynchburg Business; my husband is reading the paper, my stepdaughters are playing in their room and our future family member is wiggling around inside my stomach.

I know now he was right… on both fronts.

Falling in love happened quickly; when I met “the one,” I just knew.

Falling in love with the area happened over time and was a product of my career as a local journalist. The life of a TV news reporter brings you closer to the community than any other job. You get to know the good, the bad and the ugly of the area you are assigned to monitor. In between court cases and layoffs, I was privileged to tell the good stories, stories about selfless individuals in the Lynchburg region and a community with a true heart for service.

In this issue, part of our Community Impact Appreciation 2016, you will get to read about some of the businesses that are ahead of the curve in efforts to give back to this area. Business owners like Brandon Brown, of Brown’s Heating and Air, who find small, impactful ways to help people who desperately need assistance. Or business owners like Dan and Kelly Reichard who make it their goal to help those with disabilities not only find a job, but keep it for the long run. Read more about this year’s eight recognized businesses on pages 44-51.

I will also have to admit, upon moving to Central Virginia in my 20s, I was convinced there would be absolutely nothing to do here. True, Lynchburg is not a big, metropolitan city with an endless nightlife. But I was immediately impressed with all this city has to offer: wine/music festivals, arts and culture opportunities, a thriving and quaint downtown and more.
On pages 53-55, we are looking ahead to all of the big, upcoming tourism projects and the events that will put Lynchburg and Bedford on the map in the coming year. One of the biggest is the Virginia Commonwealth Games, which is expected to bring 10,000 athletes and spectators to the Hill City this summer.

I hope by reading this issue of Lynchburg Business, and any upcoming issues of the magazine or Lynchburg Living, that one of two things happens. Hopefully, the stories will help you reaffirm your love for this area.

Or maybe, the more you read, the more you will gradually fall in love with a place I now call home.

Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor