Cox Enterprises, owner of this newspaper, celebrates 125 years in operation

This week, Cox Enterprises is celebrating its 125th anniversary. It was founded with the purchase of the Dayton Evening News by James M. Cox in 1898 and since has expanded far beyond its newspaper beginnings, adding broadband, automotive, sustainable agriculture, plastics recycling, public sector software and other businesses to its holdings.

“We’re always thinking about and planting seeds for the years ahead, which is why we’re building a portfolio of potential billion-dollar businesses across multiple sectors,” said Cox Enterprises Chairman and CEO Alex Taylor. “We make decisions to thrive long into the future, not just to turn around dollars for today.”

With $22 billion in annual revenues and about 50,000 employees, Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises remains family-owned. It is helmed by Taylor, who is Cox’s great-grandson. Chairman Emeritus Jim Kennedy is Cox’s grandson.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The company continues to own the local newspaper that James M. Cox renamed the Dayton Daily News and also owns the Journal-News Pulse serving Lebanon and Mason, the Springfield News-Sun in Clark County and the Journal-News in Butler County, all published by Cox First Media, as well as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Georgia.

Those digital and print media offerings were bolstered in 2022 when Cox Enterprises acquired a majority stake in the digital news outlet Axios.

“With so much happening in the world, journalists play a critical role in delivering balanced, trusted news that people need,” Taylor said. “Our company started in the media business, and we have always had a passion for journalism.”

During the past 125 years, the company acquired additional newspapers and expanded into radio and television broadcasting. Over time, Cox sold its newspapers in several states and in 2019 sold all but a minority share of the broadcast operations, including WHIO-TV and radio in Dayton to affiliates of Apollo Global Management, Inc.

Cox Enterprises also owns Cox Communications and Cox Automotive, said Natalie Giurato, director of corporate communications.

Cox Communications, the company’s largest division, provides broadband applications and services. It operates fiber broadband networks in more than 30 states and serves nearly seven million homes and businesses, making it the third largest cable provider in the U.S.

Cox Automotive houses 30 brands, including Manheim Auto Auctions, Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. The division helps people buy, sell and access vehicles, Giurato said.

Cox’s mobility solutions efforts include working on technology to monitor battery health in electric vehicles so people can determine the battery life remaining in a used electric vehicle they are buying or selling, she said.

In 2019, Cox Automotive acquired a minority stake in electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian.

Cox Cleantech

The Cox Cleantech unit is a key area of investment for the company, Giurato said. Sustainable agriculture is the largest element of that effort and she said Cox is now the largest greenhouse grower in North America with its ownership of BrightFarms and majority stake in Canadian company, Mucci Farms.

Giurato said indoor growing uses less water, does not require pesticides and allows food to be grown closer to where it is consumed, cutting down on the cost and environmental impact of growing and transporting food.

The Cox Cleantech effort also includes full ownership of Nexus Circular, an advanced plastics recycling company that converts used plastics that are difficult to recycle into material that can be reused by companies.

“Cox Enterprises has aggressive sustainability goals. We believe it’s not only smart for the environment, but it’s also good business,” Taylor said. “Our long-term focus demands that we protect our resources and leave the world in better condition than we found it.”

Cox Enterprises’ portfolio also includes investments in two public sector software companies, OpenGov and Amplify, Giurato said.

OpenGov offers a cloud-based software platform for state and local governments. Amplify creates curriculum, assessment and intervention programs with a “digital-forward delivery” for K-12 teachers and students.

Giurato said Cox Enterprises also is heavily involved in the tech ecosystem, particularly in Atlanta, where it is part of programs to teach and mentor entrepreneurs.

Philanthropy

Cox does philanthropic work through the James M. Cox Foundation, which provides support for nonprofit organizations in communities where Cox Enterprises does business, and through its Corporate Social Responsibility Group.

The Ohio media company is a part of that philanthropic effort.

“Cox First Media is committed to following our company’s core values, which includes building a brighter future for the communities we serve,” said Suzanne Klopfenstein, publisher of Cox First Media. “Our work embodies this mission by using our platform’s reach to amplify important messages about those in need in our community, helping raise money for non-profit organizations in our region and encouraging volunteerism of our employees.”

One example is the annual Community Food Relief drive at the holidays that has supported Shared Harvest Foodbank in Fairfield.

“For over a decade, the Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News have also run annual food relief campaigns, raising money and awareness for foodbank networks in Clark, Champaign, Butler and Warren counties,” Klopfenstein said.

Cox First Media also works with dozens of community nonprofit organizations, providing in-kind advertising to help those organizations reach new audiences and spread awareness about fundraising events.

“In the past two years, Cox First Media has worked with more than 40 nonprofits to give more than $740,000 of advertising space,” Klopfenstein said.

Employees get up to eight hours paid time off annually to volunteer in the community and the company also coordinates group volunteer days, including a day last year at a Dayton Foodbank drive-through distribution event that served more 600 people, she said.

“For decades, Cox First Media has helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations and key community initiatives evolve and prosper through in-kind advertising support, providing volunteer resources and stepping up to help those in need,” Klopfenstein said. “This is core to what we do and we remain committed to helping this region build a bright future for generations to come.”

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