Time to say goodbye

Wow.

What a ride it’s been.

And an extraordinarily meaningful one at that.

But, just like the moments ticking away from start to finish on the moving attractions at theme parks and carnivals, eventually the ride ends and it’s time to move on to the next stop on the midway.

For me, today marks the end of my time at The Commercial Appeal and at Startup Memphis. Next up on the midway for me is a transition to a career in the creative industry after more than two decades in journalism.

When I gathered with a team of phenomenally talented folks three years ago to develop this site and the accompanying weekly Startup Memphis column at The Commercial Appeal, I had no idea what sort of reception would greet us or how long this project would last.

With the support of an amazingly intuitive editor – Roland Klose – and under the direction of a digital team that included Brent Booth, Jennifer Clarke, Ricky Gipson, Stefanie Holmes, Eric Janssen, Ian Lemmonds, Jonathan McCarver, Drew Phillips, Tim Scoutelas, Leslie Skelton, Marlon Van Buren and Shawn Wolowicz – the concept of an online community spotlighting the Mid-South entrepreneurial ecosystem was born.

And my colleagues back in the Business section – Tom Bailey, Kevin McKenzie, Wayne Risher and Toby Sells – served as a remarkable support team by offering invaluable assistance with content and ideas on how to make Startup Memphis the best site around. Their support was crucial to the success this project has enjoyed.

I can honestly say that I had no idea what to expect from the project and I didn’t have an inkling as to the kind of traction it would achieve in this community and beyond.

One thing I discovered early 0n: Donning a columnist’s hat in addition to my regular stint as a news reporter added an entirely new facet to my public persona. Before that, many news sources and resources knew me by name and voice because often our interactions were conducted over the phone. Many others knew me by face because of stories I covered and events I attended, but the majority of readers knew me as a byline.

All that changes when you get a mugshot accompanying your column and folks start recognizing you in public. But in my experience, it was all good. Even those times when strangers approached me and criticized articles I’d written, I always appreciated the privilege I enjoyed as a member of the media to share stories in a very public forum.

And through myriad changes at this publication and on this site – Roland Klose left to take up residence in St. Louis as Business Editor at the Post-Dispatch and of the original digital team, only Stefanie, Ian, Marlon and Shawn remain with this company – support for this project never waivered.

Business editor Ted Evanoff came on board last year and from the first step he supported Startup Memphis and displayed a keen appreciation for the role that entrepreneurship has played in this community and how it will influence economic development in the future. Through his leadership, I was able to continue the work started on this platform and broaden its reach through additional channels.

There are many more folks who have supported me during my time here and thousands of readers I’ll never meet, but whose interest in these stories and this site have made Startup Memphis and all the work here worth the effort.

To all of you - here, there and beyond - I offer sincere and heartfelt thanks. I’ll take this experience with me as I move into my new career in the creative industry and I’ll cherish the connections and friendships I’ve made.

And that’s what I’m thinking about today as this midway ride ends and just before another is set begin.

It’s been one heckuva ride and I’m better for having been on it.

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