By Courtney Clark

Each year, the Association of Free Community Papers recognizes a publisher who has made contributions to the industry. For 2015, the association honored Ponte Vedra Beach local Vincent Grassia as its Publisher of the Year.

Grassia has more than 35 years of experience in the community publishing industry, much of it right here. For years he was publisher of newspapers here in Ponte Vedra Beach. Since 2012, he has worked for IWANNA,  a family of weekly classified advertising newspapers that serve areas of North Carolina and South Carolina, but Grassia still spends most of his time in Ponte Vedra, commuting to the North Carolina mountains when needed.

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In his free time, he enjoys fishing in Northeast Florida and spending time with his family. He is also a director of the National Advertising Network, remains involved with the Rotary Club in Ponte Vedra Beach and acts a consultant to newspaper businesses.

1.How did you come to receive the Publisher of the Year award?

I was nominated by a colleague in the industry because of my many years of involvement in the community publishing business and my many volunteer hours serving on boards of various industry trade groups and associations (Community Papers of Florida, Association of Free Community Papers, PaperChain, National Advertising Network, Inc.).

2.How did it make you feel to be named the best in your industry?

After many years in this industry, it’s nice to be recognized by your peers and friends.

3.What is the biggest advantage to free community papers?

The biggest advantage is their hyper-local news, features and advertising. All of these things contained in community publications do not really appear anywhere else in a condensed fashion. Some local newspaper websites are starting to catch on, but they’re few and far between.

4.What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is launching new products, niche magazines, and so on. Also, bringing along and mentoring younger people to be in our business. I have many good memories of being a publisher. One of my favorites was taking a local newspaper in southwest Florida, which was losing a great amount of money, and turning it into a very profitable and well-read local favorite in under a year.

5. What publications do you like to read?

I have a few publications I enjoy these days. One is JAZZIZ Magazine. I also like two old stand-bys: Sports Illustrated and Popular Mechanics. I enjoy reading our local newspapers here in Northeast Florida, and of course IWANNA publications.

Photo courtesy Vincent Grassia

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