The New Year always ushers in change, but 2009 promises to be extraordinary for a host of reasons. Barack Obama, the first African-American to win the U.S. presidential election, will be sworn in as the 44th president this month. Meanwhile, fallout from the home mortgage crisis and credit crunch continues to roil financial institutions on Wall Street and hurt borrowers on Main Street. This has led to a deepening recession at home and abroad.

The U.S. economy lost 1.9 million jobs through the first 11 months of 2008, and the projections call for more job losses in 2009. Americans are frustrated. They want solutions to get the economy moving again.

Against that backdrop, and in this month of new beginnings and resolutions, NREI also is undergoing change. Effective with the January issue, I am taking over the reins as publisher. It's a great opportunity, albeit a little daunting in this weak economy. Here's a little background on me. I joined the NREI team in 1995 as Midwest sales manager and quickly developed a deep affinity for the magazine and its readers. Over the last 14 years, I have worked with clients from coast to coast. I'm familiar with many of you and look forward to enhancing our relationship in the years to come.

Not resting on our laurels

Although the commercial real estate industry continues to reinvent itself through good and bad times, the one constant at NREI is our unwavering commitment to keep advertising and editorial functions separate. I strongly believe that an insightful and engaging news product that has an independent voice is a magnet for our advertisers. Our news team led by Editor Matt Valley is experienced, talented and fair-minded. The staff is particularly adept at turning complex issues into meaningful stories.

But much like the industry we cover, NREI can't afford to stand still. In recent years, the brand has been expanded to include e-newsletters covering important disciplines such as seniors housing, green building, institutional investment, technology and brokerage. We now distribute nine monthly installments of our e-newsletters. Other brand extensions have included custom conferences, webinars and white papers on important topics such as borrower trends and corporate real estate. For the past six years, we've published the annual investor outlook in conjunction with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services.

I joke that my timing for accepting the publisher's position couldn't have been worse. After all, these are difficult days for the publishing world. Advertising budgets are traditionally among the first to be cut by companies in a downturn. Ironically, it's in times like these that companies need to brand themselves aggressively to communicate their uniqueness and stay one step ahead of the competition.

NREI is not an island

Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets is that NREI is part of Penton Media's Financial Services Group, which includes Retail Traffic, Lodging Hospitality, Trusts & Estates, Registered Rep., and Business Finance magazines. Because NREI's news coverage cuts across several property types with an emphasis on the capital markets, the potential to leverage our editorial strengths across those various products is substantial.

That's a proven strategy on our part, not just wishful thinking. Special sections undertaken by the NREI staff on timely topics such as tenant-in-common investment, corporate real estate, and green building have appeared in several magazines across the group. Going forward, I envision NREI working on timely projects with American City & County, another Penton publication, as financially strapped municipalities look for new ways to attract and grow businesses.

I have passion for the product, and I'm proud of the many staffers behind the scenes who go the extra mile for readers and advertisers. The production, circulation and art departments are unsung heroes. As this year of unprecedented change gets under way, remember that we're here to assist you in any way possible. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know whether we're living up to our mission and how we can be of service.

Contact Publisher Marianne Rivera at marianne.rivera@penton.com