Years ago when I was in the Army, I was fortunate enough to get stationed in Seattle. Now, this wasn’t at some base an hour away, but smack dab downtown; in fact, my office was right across the street from the Starbucks headquarters.

I was really excited at the opportunity to live in a “cool” city, and experience all the happening things Seattle had going on — the remnants of the grunge rock scene, Microsoft’s Paul Allen creating his Experience Music Project downtown ... heck, I even drove through the World Trade Organization riots, and it took months to rid my car’s A/C of the tear gas odor. As strange as it sounds, I am not sure that anyone in their mid-20s wants it any other way.

Fast forward to today and my orders are given by my wife, rather than Uncle Sam, and the mission given each weekend is to find something to do and a new restaurant that is “amongst it.” I guess for all the things that change, much stays the same.

A lot of our efforts with this magazine are geared toward shining a light on things we see as beneficial for the community. We have written much about supporting those looking to start or grow their business in the Tristate. It is my belief that there is no other single effort we make — to give exposure to these companies with the hope of increased revenues and local employment — that will make as great an impact on our community and its resources. However, you will see in this issue that we have taken a dramatic leap in a direction that we feel best complements supporting your business: developing awareness of our local arts and culture scene.

Why? Well, we take this leap after thinking long and hard about where we see our magazine heading, and after getting much feedback from you, our readers. We have heard from you continuously that there is not enough coverage of arts in our magazine and other local media, given the extraordinary wealth of venues and options for arts and entertainment in the Tristate. After more research we appreciated the tight relationship between a thriving arts scene and furthering business in our metro region.

In fact, when you look at how cities compete for attracting new businesses and young talent, study after study shows that communities with an abundance of arts and culture win out — as compared to just the size of a city, or what beautiful body of water it borders. As you can imagine, someone who attends an arts venue serves as a “multiplier” when you factor in the spending on a night out, with dining, parking, etc.

Comparatively, professional sports — as much as we all love them, or love to hate them (see our story on page 32) — drive much more revenue into their own coffers. In fact, each dollar spent from government on arts gets a 7:1 return on investment. So, does anyone want to review the return for the stadium tax? No comment.

We continue to seek your input as we make this effort to focus more on local arts and culture throughout 2009.

One thing that I didn’t mention about my time in Seattle. After being there for a couple of years, I came up with my form of a utopian city: I would keep Seattle with all its natural wonders, but move everyone out and substitute them with people from Ohio and the Midwest. I would rather be “amongst it” in Cincy with a thriving business and cultural environment than with those northwesterners any day, and obviously many of you feel the same way. So let’s all start spreading the news: In Cincy, the Arts Mean Business.