Four years ago I took a job as a business reporter, despite my lack of knowledge on the subject. As I prepare to leave The Bellingham Business Journal this month, I’ve been reflecting on everything I’ve learned in contributing to 51 issues of this publication.
My time here at The BBJ has been a crash course in everything from economics to real estate to owning a small business. Looking back, it was an ominous time to dive into the business beat. I started in October 2007, right as the credit crisis began unfolding into what would become the Great Recession.
Crash course indeed — by the time I got business cards I was learning about economic indicators and interviewing investment managers. Though the news I was reporting was a bit depressing at times, I was excited to be covering important issues and relating national trends to the local economy.
More importantly, I was excited to be learning about my community and the great people who live and work here. I was lucky enough to find this job right after graduating from Western Washington University and for the first time I was looking at Bellingham from the perspective of a resident rather than a student.
I discovered that many people care deeply about this community — and not just about the number of parks or affordable homes, but about locally owned businesses and having a thriving economy.
In four years I have yet to run out of interesting people to interview. From restauranteurs to tech entrepreneurs, this town is full of people with great business ideas, people who are passionate about what they do.
If you are one of those people, thank you for sharing your story with me. You have deepened not only my connection to this city, but also everyone who reads this publication. It is a joy to walk into a business and know a little bit about the owners or remember an interesting tidbit about the business.
And if we haven’t met and swapped stories yet, I’ll still be around taking note of “For Lease” signs and looking at building permits wondering what new business is going to join our community. Just look for the guy who looks like a nosy reporter.