Ross Catrow's office used to house a decorative painter, but as soon as he moved in, he drowned the delicate faux finishes in a sea of Virginia Tech orange.
Catrow's big on loyalty. But before he was a Hokie, he was a Richmonder, and that's the constituency he really wants to use his Web design business to help. Catrow and his partner, Scott Pharr, the only two employees, run the for-profit firm PharrOut with the heart of a nonprofit.
By his own account, Catrow's dream clients are "stereotypical, homegrown Richmond businesses." Think the Byrd Theatre, Ukrop's, Legend Brewery, Pleasant's Hardware. While he'd like to help these local guys, he really wants their businesses to fund his community-based sites. His highest-trafficked creation is a blog aggregator -- one-stop shopping for local blog readers who want to see which local site has updated most recently without trolling through all the pages one by one.
RichmondCrime.org and VacantRichmond.com, two sites that use city statistics to map empty houses and criminal activity, represent the direction Catrow wants to go. It's a tool that gives community members information in a readable way so they can fix problems themselves.