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Cheers to 35 Years!

The Lane Report thrives by helping Kentucky business toast its best practices and successes

By The Lane Report Staff

This unforgettable year 2020 marks The Lane Report’s 35th anniversary, a milestone we are excited to celebrate with our many friends and associates in the Kentucky business community. Heading down the homestretch of a year unlike any other, we feel ready for anything and are genuinely enthusiastic about what 2021 will bring.

This year brought momentous challenges, change and progress for The Lane Report. Our media platforms and the Kentucky business community have taken this 2020 journey together, and that will always be the case because we are your partner and we thrive when you do. Good things are in the offing. We are growing and improving, like you, and see good times coming!

In 35 years, our company has ridden favorable trade winds and navigated storms, including economic downturns, major technological advances like the advent of the internet; evolution in the media and communication industries; the passing of founder and publisher Ed Lane; and now even a global pandemic. We have explored and launched new products. And best of all, with excitement we announced new ownership in the spring.

Today we celebrate the ongoing evolution and improvement of our operations. More about that later.

Though it started as a one-sheet report on Central Kentucky business conditions, The Lane Report has evolved into a full-color publication distributed monthly across all 120 Kentucky counties. A number of other special publications have been or are now in the company’s portfolio as well. Our magazine, the print parent of today’s full-feature website, email blast and mobile options, was born in a different era technologically.

The Lane Report started in 1985 as a flyer produced several times a year to provide information to Ed Lane’s commercial real estate clients. At the time, his was the only full-service commercial real estate firm in Central Kentucky. Lane came to Lexington from Atlanta after extensive work as a site consultant with the parent company of Long John Silver’s when Lexington-based Jerrico was growing the fast-food chain to more than 1,300 locations around the eastern United States.

In Lexington, Lane operations grew to include real estate sales and leasing, property management, appraisals and auctions. Because his wide range of clients near and far kept inquiring about information on the region, he began publishing a regional community economic profile called … The Lane Report. It provided information on new developments, employment levels, population trends, vacancy rates, etc., and became a valuable tool for people managing businesses and companies interested in moving to or expanding in Lexington and the Bluegrass region.

Feeling the positive response, the flyer grew and became more substantial. Its focus expanded beyond Central Kentucky.

Business people, government officials and other decision-makers appreciated the clear and concise overview of what was happening across the state, and advertisers appreciated the cost-effective marketing opportunity to reach top leaders and decision makers in business and public policy through their ads with The Lane Report’s controlled circulation. Each issue has a significant pass-along readership as well because recipients find it so valuable they route it through their office and put it in common areas and public lobbies in their businesses.

In 2010, The Lane Report interviewed the founder for a special issue celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“I thought the magazine would be a valuable tool for our community—a good source of business information and a demographically targeted advertising medium. But The Lane Report has grown quite a bit more over the last 25 years than I initially expected. Our editorial coverage went statewide in 1997. Our reporting touches every part of the state, and the response from our readers has been very enthusiastic,” Ed Lane said in the interview.

To facilitate discussion of and progress on issues facing the region and the state, he launched the magazine’s centerpiece question-and-answer format interview, the Lane One-on-One. Over the years, The Lane Report has interviewed scores of Kentucky business and public policy leaders, including Kentucky governors, senators, university presidents, CEOs, bank chairmen and major developers, but also up-and-coming entrepreneurs and leaders in the arts.

“There have been many occasions where we profiled a man or woman in our state who had done something exceptional or started a business. The news article provided them some initial exposure and publicity. A few years later and they’ve grown their business and become very successful. That’s very exciting when you see that happen to an entrepreneur,” Lane said. “The Lane Report also promotes education and the arts. The future of Kentucky’s economy is a well-educated workforce. Better educated Kentuckians will make our state more competitive in the global economy.”

Lane himself was urged to seek public office and in 2004 voters elected him to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. They re-elected him repeatedly, often without opposition, for the rest of his life.

Like most media sites around the nation, The Lane Report created an online platform for its content in the late 1990s. For years LaneReport.com has posted the magazine’s monthly content and that of its specialty publications such as community profiles; NEXT, an annual publication outlining college and career options for high school students; annual market reviews of Central Kentucky, Greater Louisville and Northern Kentucky; Prep, a magazine focused on the restaurant sector; and BG, which highlighted young professionals and creatives and the opportunities they were embracing.

In 2011, Lane expanded its digital operations by posting breaking news content during the business day and creating the free FasterLane email blast to provide ongoing updates of interest to the Kentucky economic community.

All of these information channels presented opportunities for businesses to market with focus and effectiveness to select audiences. 

In August 2015, Ed Lane passed away after a courageous yet very quiet battle with cancer. Most of his friends and associates had no knowledge of his illness, in part because Lane’s trademark sunny and optimistic manner never changed.

Daughters Meredith Lane Ferguson of Lexington and Brett Lane of Atlanta became owners of The Lane Report and named long-time associate publisher Dick Kelly to succeed the founder.

“My sister and I, along with the amazing and dedicated staff, have carried on our father’s legacy,” Ferguson said in March 2020. “Together, thanks to each staff member who has been integral in pushing the company forward, the group kept the publication operating and thriving. Now, this year, the magazine celebrates another huge milestone.

“Brett and I never intended on keeping the magazine in our hands forever. Not only did we want to find a successor, but it was important to find someone who had great business acumen, had their finger on the pulse of Kentucky’s economy and was ingrained in the community as a public servant and leader. We trusted in the timing and knew when it was right, that person would reveal themselves to us. Earlier this year, we had an ‘a-ha’ moment and entered into a sales agreement with that person.”

In March 2020, Ferguson announced that The Lane Report changed hands into a great new family.

“The ‘cherry on top’ was that this person ended up being a dear friend of our father’s, Kevin O. Stinnett. They served on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council together for numerous terms and it was there that they fostered a business relationship and a friendship over shared interests in economic development, service and public policy that provides opportunities for Fayette County’s citizens.

“Stinnett owns and runs successful insurance and financial planning businesses, so he has unique insight and understands the marketing needs of business owners and what The Lane Report can provide to its advertisers. The moment we mentioned the idea of purchasing The Lane Report to Stinnett, it was a no-brainer that he was the right fit for a number of reasons.

“Brett and I are excited for the future of our father’s business and the legacy Stinnett will carry forward with the staff, many of whom have been with the company for decades,” Ferguson said. “Since 1985, The Lane Report has become a trusted source for Kentucky business news, and just as it has evolved over the last 35 years, we look forward to seeing how the company will grow even more in the future with Stinnett’s new ideas.”

Stinnett brings innovations

A native of Lexington, Stinnett is a graduate of Bryan Station High School in Lexington and Centre College with bachelor’s degrees in economics and Spanish. He was in the Leadership Lexington class of 2000 and has served on the Commerce Lexington economic development team and the boards of Lexington Center (Rupp Arena) and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. He also has served on the board of the city’s Business and Education Network.

Beginning in 2004—the same year Ed Lane was first elected—Stinnett served five terms on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council from the Sixth District and one as an at-large member. Stinnett and Lane co-authored the city’s Economic Stabilization Fund in 2006, creating a “rainy day” fund now topping $36 million and being used for the first time to help balance the city budget after the virus. He chaired the city’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development committee for 10 years, and was a candidate for mayor in 2018.

With unique vision and understanding developed by private-sector success, public-service experience and a shared perspective with Ed Lane, Stinnett is bringing energetic and ambitious plans for The Lane Report’s 36th year and beyond.

The Lane Report is one of the most respected brands in Kentucky, appreciated by the state’s business community and leaders for bringing news focused specifically on the issue they are working through to improve our commonwealth,” Stinnett said. “I want to enhance both the print magazine and its digital platforms, and make it improve the value proposition for both our readers and our advertisers.”

Like all business, media is a competitive sector, he said, and The Lane Report and lanereport.com are going to be successful by innovating and becoming an even better product.

Stinnett has initiated a redesign of the magazine, expanded its monthly page count and upgraded the product with additional content and modern elements to improve readability and engagement. The lanereport.com website has also enhanced the experience it provides and created high-impact marketing opportunities, with much more to come. Page views for our website have surged more than 50% in 2020 compared to 2019.

This fall, a new week-in-review email blast, In Case You Missed It, launched. It goes out to our many thousands of subscribers each Monday morning. All email news blasts are free.

Stinnett is evaluating other digital additions for Lane Report information and business-to-business marketing opportunities to better serve the Kentucky business community.

“We are here for the long run,” Stinnett said.

The Lane Report has succeeded in a changing and challenging environment by building and nurturing the relationship with our readers and advertisers. Keeping the trust we have built with you is our strategy for growing in 2021 and beyond. Join us in a toast to our mutual futures!

Kevin O. Stinnett Owner and President 

Having been a fan and admirer of The Lane Report for many years, it didn’t take long to assess an opportunity that turned up this past spring. I became the new owner of Kentucky’s business news magazine. I hope you like the steps we’ve taken so far to grow what was already a quality operation into one that can provide more of what you value. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to keep us on top of our game.

I have long appreciated the magazine and its website and its email blast as a good source of information about conditions in Kentucky’s economy. There just isn’t another way to get an overview of what is happening all over the state. Because of The Lane Report, I’ve seldom been surprised at what happens next.

I was born and raised in Lexington then went to Centre College in Danville, where I got a double degree in Economics and Spanish. I came back to Lexington and went to work as a financial adviser and wealth manager, affiliated with a quality national company. Then I opened my own financial business. When an opportunity came along, I got involved with and am an owner of Lexington Insurance Agency.

My education and experience running my businesses for 24 years put me in a position to evaluate the potential of The Lane Report to take steps to be even better and grow its operation.

Additionally, I had the perspective of having been an elected Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council member for 14 years, involved the city’s economic development and financial operations, including chairing the council budget committee.

But most importantly of all, I had enjoyed a close personal relationship and special bond with Ed Lane, who had launched The Lane Report back in 1985. Ed was elected to the Urban County Council at the same time I was in 2004. An age difference separated us, but our status as fellow “freshmen” on the council brought us together. Ed was a numbers person like me and valued a dollar. He and I together introduced legislation that created Lexington’s current rainy day fund.

Ed Lane and I were fellow council members for 11 years. We disagreed sometimes, but I always admired the good humor, insight and positive attitude he brought to any situation and to problem solving for the good of the community.

I see that spirit in The Lane Report and it gives me satisfaction to know that as its owner, I will ensure it continues playing a beneficial role on behalf of Kentucky’s business and economic community.

 

Jake Kratzenberg  Chief Operating Officer 

As a business leader from outside of Kentucky, I was unaware of The Lane Report. Once I moved to the Bluegrass, though, I quickly became aware of how vital The Lane Report is to Kentucky businesses. The magazine’s positive outlook and the reporting of timely topics keep the reader engaged, and for the many out-of-the-office leaders, Faster Lane delivers information on the go.   

Since starting here in April, I have met some wonderful people and co-workers. The dedication that I see regularly is amazing. Even a global pandemic could not keep the team from seeking out timely and valuable stories to bring to you, the readers. The “Lane Team” continues to serve the state of Kentucky.     

In recent months, we have updated our website, created new departments in the magazine, and increased our total page count to better serve our customers. All these valuable additions have come in just the last six months. Imagine what the future holds!   

As a team, we continue to strive to bring the most up-to-date and essential news to Kentucky, whether it be through our website, magazine, email blast, market reviews or special publications. We know that businesses in Kentucky rely on our publications to help them make informed decisions. I can promise that the next 35 years will be bigger than ever. 

I am excited to be a part of The Lane Report’s 35th anniversary. I know that we will be celebrating many more anniversaries in the future years. We are honored to be Kentucky’s business news source since 1985. 

 

Jessica Merriman Vice President of Production 

In 1998, I started work for a pre-production company just as magazine production was starting to become digital. One of my first jobs was to work on pre-production of The Lane Report. Several years later, I was thrilled to see an opening for the creative director position at TLR. I knew the company was a strong influence in Kentucky business news, and that was exciting to me. I wanted to learn, to be a part of such a strong company with a powerful brand. I have been fortunate to be part of The Lane Report team for over 13 years now. Our team is small and dedicated to delivering the best business news product in the market, and in my role, I get to make sure that the magazine keeps a consistent appearance, with great graphics, images and advertisements that enhance the publication’s quality. I am excited to see what the next 35 years has in store for The Lane Report

 

Mark Green Vice President/Editorial Director

It was my good fortune to connect with The Lane Report in 2007 when networking to return to Kentucky after years working out-of-state at newspapers. I wasn’t smart enough then to be actively seeking out a quality niche publication like the statewide business magazine Ed Lane had built. But it was the best place I could have landed. 

Work after journalism school at UK had begun at a tiny weekly publication that famed commonwealth journalist Al Smith had in Brentwood, Tenn., followed by a couple of years in Tazewell, Tenn., at a weekly clustered with the dailies in Middlesboro and Harlan, Ky. After the New York Times Co. acquired those properties, there was 25 years at NYT Co.-owned dailies in Thibodaux, La.; Ocala and Lakeland, Fla.; and Houma, La., doing some of everything—reporting, editing, curating a diverse opinion page, running the copy desk, being webmaster and even lifestyles editor. I’d been up the holler, down the bayou and all over diverse Florida, including four years in its horse country.  

In a changing marketplace, The Lane Report thrives because it reports Kentucky-focused business news no one else provides. I was “a good fit” because I value how The Lane Report plays a constructive role in the state information landscape, sharing success stories and best practices specific to issues in our commonwealth.  

We experimented. We launched young professional-oriented magazines centered on Lexington and Louisville. We ramped up our website to post daily Kentucky business news and began sharing it in the FasterLane email blast. We added an annual Northern Kentucky Market Review, joining sibling publications for Central Kentucky and Greater Louisville.  

Ed Lane’s passing in 2015 seemed sudden because his upbeat enthusiasm never wavered; in eight-plus years I never saw him angry or heard him raise his voice. His example taught that the trust necessary for healthy relationships, professional or personal, arises from showing others you understand their needs and want to help, whether via advice, action or your business services. 

The highlight of my Lane Report tenure, however, came this March when Lexington businessman Kevin O. Stinnett acquired the company. The owner of thriving wealth management and insurance firms, Stinnett also had 14 years experience on Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, where Lane, too, was a member and the pair had built an enduring bond. 

Stinnett immediately invested in expanding and improving our products and positioning the new Lane Report Inc. for our next and best chapter. Get ready, Kentucky. Our best days are ahead! 

 

Hal Moss Senior Marketing Strategist 

Serving as senior marketing strategist at The Lane Report is a joy and I look forward to my work each day. I get to engage with Kentucky’s top business leaders across all sectors in Kentucky. I enjoy partnering with businesses across the state, learning about their new initiatives, and creating unique brand-awareness campaigns. We have exciting new media platforms to roll out in 2021 that will enhance each client’s messaging to our statewide audience.

 

Karen Baird Senior Editor

I am fortunate to have been part of The Lane Report team for nearly 25 of the publication’s 35 years. When I first joined the staff, The Lane Report covered only the Central Kentucky region and I can still remember discussions with our founding publisher, Ed Lane, about the merits of taking the publication statewide. The main point we talked about then remains pertinent today: Covering the business news of the entire commonwealth provides our readers with a perspective that they simply do not find anywhere else.

Prior to joining The Lane Report, I covered business and community news for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and worked in corporate communications for Delta Air Lines. I have always loved working in news because each day is filled with something new and interesting. One of the aspects of my job that I enjoy most is researching and compiling the magazine’s Fast Lane section for each issue. Fast Lane provides readers with a quick way to catch up on the major business developments taking place in communities across the state, from Pikeville to Paducah and all points in between. That overview provides insights into economic trends that can play an important role in decision-making for business professionals and community leaders. For instance, well before Kentucky and the nation moved into a deep recession in the late 2000s, signs of a slowing economy were evident in the Fast Lane news briefs as companies around the state began delaying projects, hiring stalled and then layoffs were implemented. Likewise, evidence of a rebound showed up in Fast Lane months before a recovery was announced, as businesses across the state began adding employees or expanding their operations. 

Being part of The Lane Report has been an incredibly interesting and rewarding experience. As we celebrate 35 years—no small feat in today’s environment—I’m optimistic about the future and eager to see how it unfolds. I think Ed would be immensely proud of what his company achieved with his daughters, Brett Lane and Meredith Lane Ferguson, at the helm and would wholeheartedly support the expansion we have implemented under the leadership of our new publisher, Kevin O. Stinnett. It’s been a fun ride—with more to come!

 

Natalie Pitman Marketing Strategist 

I started work for The Lane Report in January 2020. I was welcomed by a hard-working team, who helped me jump right in. Although this year has had a COVID-19 cloud lingering over us all, I have made sure to look for the blessings this year has brought, lessons I have learned, and creativity I have been able to bring into this new position. It is hard to believe it is already November—time flies when you are having fun! 

I learned about the passion Ed Lane had when beginning this publication. There was a need for news and updates about all the incredible things happening in Kentucky, and he did something about it. Thirty-five years later, we are the
No. 1 business news medium in Kentucky. Ed Lane’s passion continues to radiate here at The Lane Report with every publication we brainstorm ideas for and send out to our readers around the commonwealth.  

As a marketing strategist, I enjoy being able to support Kentucky businesses around the state. Marketing and economic development work together: I help develop branding strategies for my clients that not only reinforce their strong reputations with the business-to-business community but also encourage new business development and attract new companies to Kentucky. 

We recently acquired new ownership with Kevin O. Stinnett in March of this year, and I am looking forward to new and exciting changes for The Lane Report in 2021. Our team feels stronger than ever and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. 

 

Lorie Hailey Special Publications Editor 

I became part of The Lane Report family in 2012, after spending nearly 16 years in newsrooms large and small. I left the helm of a fast-paced, small daily newspaper to join the TLR team, and I was instantly impressed by our team’s editorial integrity and the community’s response to our brand—a result of the trust our founder Ed Lane worked tirelessly to develop. As a journalist, I also was excited that I was given the space and time to craft well-written and important stories that affect the business community, instead of just rushing to report breaking news. 

As TLR’s first digital editor, it was my honor to help us become an important source of daily Kentucky business news for our readers. We strive to make sure the news we post on our website is as credible and consistent as the stories we publish each month in our printed edition—a task I continue to this day. 

As someone who has worked at newspapers across Kentucky—and a few in other states—I know that what we have here is special. You don’t find a publication like ours every day, or a team as talented as this one. Probably most important to me is the relationships we have built with the business community. We place high value on our partnerships with our news sources, readers and advertisers, and that’s what sets us apart. 

Cheers to 35 years, and 35 more!

 

Matthew D. Moore Director of Digital Marketing 

I wanted to work at The Lane Report because it was born and raised in Kentucky—just like me. The company has been a major staple in the business community for a long time. The Lane Report has always given a perspective and in-depth coverage of the largest economic drivers in the state. They have served Kentucky for 35 years and will continue to do so for many years to come. Although I am new, I am honored to be a part of the team. 

 

Kristina Dahl
Digital Marketing Strategist 

Working with The Lane Report team is truly something special to me. The legacy and credibility of the brand, along with the talented team who happen to also be good-hearted people, creates a fun and proud environment. The Lane Report’s dedication to supporting Kentucky business and its leaders is such an important cause. It is rewarding to be part of a news organization that cares about getting important messaging to its readers through integrity in journalism and positive reporting that focuses on solutions. I have always believed in the brand of The Lane Report and I am excited to continue to grow with our team and have such visionary leadership behind the charge. 

 

Nikki Berrong Reichert Page Designer, The Stone Advisory

The Lane Report has always been a huge presence in my professional life. In 1995, as a recent University of Kentucky journalism school graduate interested in learning more about publication design, I started helping out evenings at Stone Advisory, a publication consulting business, after I finished my day job. One of my biggest tasks was helping with Lane Report production. After moving to Stone Advisory full time eight months later, Lane Report page design became my primary responsibility. I had no idea then that 25 years later I would still have the privilege of being a member of the Lane Report team. 

Ed Lane, like me, had a degree in journalism. I suspect that was a big part of the reason he chose to start a newsletter focused on Lexington business news to promote his real estate company. Ed knew his stuff and always had his finger on the pulse of the business world. I find it amazing and a testament to Ed’s expertise and instincts that his local promotional newsletter quickly morphed into a highly respected statewide business magazine that has continued Ed’s vision even after his death. 

Over past the 25 years, I’ve worked with many amazing professionals who have always driven the magazine forward. They know their stuff! I am proud of the body of work we as a team have produced. 

Year 35 has been a pivotal one for The Lane Report. With new leadership and despite a pandemic, The Lane Report didn’t slow down but rather accelerated its mission to highlight all of the positive things happening in Kentucky’s economy. It’s gratifying to see The Lane Report expand in size and scope and push forward without missing a beat, just as Ed would have wanted.

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