Purchased The Bottom Line 22 Years Ago
On October 5th, it will have been 22 years since I purchased The Bottom Line. In 1988, I had been an Eau Claire resident for slightly more than a year and was told by at least three financial institutions that I was considered "blue sky" to obtain financial assistance to complete the acquisition. Fortunately, my parents believed in my ability to turn a losing venture into a profitable business; and the seller, Modern Communications Inc., also financed 25 percent of the purchase price.
Five years later, I was the sole owner of a six-page newsletter that had less than 400 subscribers. Now, the 18-page publication has nearly 1,000 subscribers with an estimated readership in excess of 15,000 each week. If it weren't for some influential people in the business community in 1988 who also believed in my vision, I may have become one of the many small business owners who don't celebrate their five year anniversary, let alone a 22-year milestone.
In 1988, development of the North Crossing was still speculation. London Square Mall was seeing its demise as it attempted to compete with Oakwood Mall; and South Hastings Way was still a two-lane highway. Chippewa Falls was immersed in the spin-off development from Cray Research and Leinenkugel's was a brew that only the locals knew about. Menomonie was just starting to realize what a gem it had in UW-Stout and its mission to be on the cusp of technology.
Outlying communities like Cadott, Fall Creek, Colfax and Bloomer were considered rural towns that produced nothing buth agricultural products. Twenty-two years later, many of those lesser-known communities have proven that economic development is not just for larger municipalities. In fact, rural towns can generate the type of growth that shows the entire Chippewa Valley can be a catalyst for small business.
About six years ago, I decided to start writing this editorial in hopes that it would create thought, conversation and possibly some humor on occasion. It was the best move that I ever made.
For example, since I wrote the column three weeks ago outlining my philosophy about tipping, I have received more e-mail messages and phone calls than from any column before. Without a doubt, this weekly editorial has begun to accomplish its intended goal, which is to create a forum that allows me to engage with readers.
I'm not sure if I'll be writing this column 22 years from now, but I will continue to make an effort to stimulate thought and intelligent discussion while it's still fun to go to work every day. Thanks.