One of my favorite Special Reports of the year is in this issue. It’s the Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Why is it a favorite? For one thing, fast-growing private companies tend to be new and, in a way, undiscovered. If you go down our list of Valley area fast-growing businesses that begins on page 18, you’ll see many names

that are probably unfamiliar to you.

Even the top three companies on the list – USA Link System, GeoLinks and Payscout Inc. – are probably new to most Valley area folks, including those who follow local business news.

It’s not simply that we’re uncovering little-known names. That wouldn’t be difficult; there are thousands of small, private companies all around us. But the companies on our list also are growing quickly. The three companies mentioned above had two-year growth rates of 425 percent, 335 percent and 329 percent, respectively.

In short, these are little gems that hold big promise. And it’s exciting to bring those high-performing but little-known companies to the surface. Today’s GeoLinks may be tomorrow’s BlackLine Inc. or Avery Dennison – or even Amgen Inc. And you saw it here first.

Most business news outlets focus not on small private companies but on big public companies. That makes sense because public companies generally are bigger, and since they attract

investment from the public, they should get

scrutiny and coverage.

But public companies tend to be bigger and slower growing. A 10 percent growth in revenue is considered breakneck speed. So an article about how a company is coping with triple-digit growth – such as some in the Special Report in this issue – is fresh and interesting.

I’m always somewhat amused by the hand-wringing that occurs whenever a big local public company gets bought out. When that happens, civic leaders invariably ask what they believe is an important question: What can we do to stop losing “our headquarters”?

Nobody enjoys losing big public companies, to be sure. But in a philosophical sense, the loss of a big public company is simply part of the

life cycle. Companies are born, they grow, they get old and they go off, perhaps in a merger. A community has no more right to keep any company in town than it has a right to retain individual residents.

A more important question is this: Are we replacing them? Do we have a bounty of thriving small private companies coming up to replace

the big businesses that leave us? Do we have

the next BlackLine and Avery Dennison and,

yes, Amgen coming up?

If the answer is yes, that means a pillar of the local economy is sturdy. If the answer is yes, than at least some of the fastest-growing and most successful of the smaller private companies will become our next generation of big public companies. If the answer is yes, then the civic minded can get back to fretting about high taxes and slow traffic.

If you look over this special section, you can’t help but see the mounting strength of our fast-growing private companies. And I’m confident you’ll see that the answer to that more important question is yes.

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@sfvbj.com.