I was just re-reading the goodbye column I wrote in February 2005, when I was saying "adieu" to the readers of The Bellingham Business Journal and "hello" to the world of family-run business.
It was, ironically, my "last word" as I said goodbye to take a job as marketing manager for my father’s company, Blue Future Filters. The column was all about how sad I was to be leaving the paper and my career, how optimistic I felt about our town, and how honored I was to be joining the ranks of local family businesses.
Little could I have known then that two years later I would be back at the BBJ, but this time as publisher and editor.
When I left the BBJ, it was after working for more than four years as a reporter. Since then, I have been gaining experience in marketing, sales, project management and some of the nuts and bolts of running a small business. This experience has taught me a lot, and it has also given me a unique perspective on the business world that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise.
I enter into this new position with many hopes and aspirations, and I want to lay out for you my top seven goals for the paper.
• Continue to be the best source of business news in Bellingham. If nothing else, the legacy of John Thompson has been his unwavering dedication to putting out the best business news publication in Bellingham. Through his reign this paper has racked up no less than 12 Society of Professional Journalists awards, and I have no small shoes to fill in my new job.
Lucky for me, and for you, our ace reporter Heidi Schiller is on the beat. Along with the excellent help of WWU interns such as Nicole Lanphear, our editorial department will continue to produce all the up-to-the-minute, on-the-street news you’ve come to expect from the BBJ.
• Facilitate a smooth transition. My main goal in the next several months is to have this transition go as smoothly as possible for our readers, advertisers and staff — while maintaining that aforementioned excellence in editorial content.
• Grow the BBJ’s presence in our community. One of the things I’ve missed most about the BBJ is being out there talking with all of you — the business community — the backbone of this town. While we maintain our editorial excellence, I look forward to doing my part to elevate our presence in the community.
• Support our advertisers to get their message across. I’m blessed to inherit a great sales team in Sarah Drues, Sean Echelbarger and Ginger Oppenheimer. I have known Sean, our graphics guru, for many years, and although Sarah and I are still getting to know each other, her enthusiasm and love for our community is evident. Ginger, I am happy to say, I have also known for several years, and the BBJ has scored big time to have her on board. I have no doubt this crack team can handle any advertising challenge that comes their way.
• Continue to expand our online usefulness for our readers and BBJ Online members. Newspapers have been forever changed by the Internet and its multimedia format, and we aim to be at the forefront of current trends online. Our bulletin board service, BBJ Online, continues to provide subscribing members with up-to-the-minute news at it comes across our desktops, both virtual and actual. Our online advertisers also have the opportunity to have video and moving graphics in their ads, which brings an added one-two punch to their marketing efforts. Look for increased Web presence as we continue to build our online journal and members-only forum.
• Be a good corporate citizen. Like every small business in Bellingham, we aim to be responsible members of the community. We will continue to be sponsors of projects like the Victory Gardens, which aims to raise thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and veggies for the Bellingham Food Bank.
• Enjoy the pleasure of getting to know you all again. I’m excited to have the opportunity to get back in touch with all of you. Entreprenuers are a most unique group of visionaries, and I look forward to talking with you all again.
I hope to see some of you at your business lunches, and don’t be surprised to hear me on the other end of the line to find out how we can serve you better.
It’s nice to say hello again. I look forward to getting reacquainted.
Vanessa Blackburn is the publisher and editor of The Bellingham Business Journal. She can be reached by calling 647-8805, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org