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Bidness As Unusual

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by Paul Flemming

Eddie Bass can not be replaced, he can only be substituted for.

When Eddie, the Springfield Business Journal's long-time contributing editor, died in March, we and our readers lost a friend and a distinguished journalist. And a void was left on this editorial page. For many readers, Eddie's "Reflections" column that appeared in this space was the SBJ feature they turned to first when they picked up the paper.

Though Eddie's voice and perspective can't be replicated, the fact of these 12 column inches remains. In the past months this space has been filled with a hodgepodge of columnists not that there wasn't stuff worth reading here, the lineup just didn't reflect any kind of formal solution. There was no master plan or regularity that readers could rely on.

That now is changing.

The Aug. 31 issue of the Springfield Business Journal will inaugurate a rotation of five columnists that I am sure will inform and engage its readers. The subjects they will write about vary as much as their backgrounds and temperaments.

First off is Ellen Rohr, co-owner of Rogersville-based MaxRohr. Ellen will offer basic business advice aimed at self-employed and small-business owners. "There are simple basic business scorecards that help you make sound decisions regarding your company and your life," Ellen has written.

She said embarrassment keeps many small-business people from admitting they don't understand a few things, such as how to read financials. That embarrassment keeps them in the dark and, often, heading down the wrong road. Ellen, a seasoned writer, will offer some of those basic building blocks of success in her column.

Clark Davis, president of Saint Louis Investment Advisors, is already familiar to readers of these pages. He has been part of the shotgun approach to filling Eddie's spot in the last few months. And his performance has merited continuation in this regular lineup.

Clark wrote me that his writing would reflect a "warts and all column that will, from time to time even divulge some of the biggest mistakes I have made during my investment career." Clark doesn't sell specific products, but rather offers investment strategies and the questions you should be asking of your financial advisers. His contributions have been well-received, and he's a nice guy, to boot.

Jan Horton is known to many of you. You've read about her in these pages and elsewhere, or you've worked with her in the community. Jan's position as president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks gives her a distinct perspective, as well as placing her squarely in the business community. The foundation manages more than $20 million in charitable funds and works with other businesses in the area for its philanthropic purposes.

Jan is a scion of the city, and her native status will inform her commentary.

David Knight is the former economic development coordinator for the city of Springfield who is now employed in the private sector at Butler, Rosenbury & Partners. This combination of a public-sector past combined with his current civilian position will allow David to offer insights not available to others.

Economic development is, at base, the subject of everything we cover in the Business Journal. Much of that is related to the building trades. David has the goods to comment on both.

Finally, a mystery columnist will join the ranks of the four mentioned above it's kind of like the player to be named later in baseball trades. I can't name this person definitively because I have not confirmed his participation. I have a first choice and the confidence that this author will agree to join the rotation.

The subject of this columnist's work will revolve around education and its importance to the Ozarks' economy. When my preferred writer returns to the country after vacation, I'll have my lineup complete.

I have instructed each of these columnists to write about anything they want, though I have obviously chosen them for the strengths mentioned. I have challenged them to be provocative. I am certain they will be, and that will benefit all of us who produce and read this paper each week.

It heartens me to remember Eddie Bass as I write about this new stable of columnists. I think it would amuse him that it is going to require five people to fill his shoes. Or, rather, to try to fill his shoes.

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