Posts Tagged ‘dianna borsi obrien’

Back in 1987, my first editor Tommy Martin told me I didn’t have to know everything, I just had to have people willing to give me a call when something happened. The tip for this article didn’t come from someone calling me but through my connections within the community.

One of my hobbies in an interest in historic buildings, which you can see through another one of my websites, columbiahistoricplaces.com

But it’s through this connection that I learned Missouri Preservation was going to honor John and Vicki Ott’s company, Alley A Realty, for its redevelopment of the Berry Building. Once a warehouse for grocery items unloaded at the nearby railroad depot, now a bus station, the 1924 building was derelict when the Otts bought it. After a $3 million renovation, the building is now occupied by PS: Gallery, Wilson’s Fitness and 12 luxury loft apartments as well as other businesses.

This redevelopment was honored by Missouri Preservation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting historic preservation.

This is only the fourth Columbia building honored by Missouri Preservation, but it is the Otts’ 11th redevelopment project in downtown Columbia.

While journalists like me work to remain objective, it is also part of our job to stay connected.

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One of the jobs of the media is to provide a place where a community can have a conversation with itself.

That’s what this article is all about. Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher wants the community to discuss changing a law so voters can have an opportunity to tax themselves to pay for quality preschool for all children in Boone County.

He knows increasing taxes isn’t popular. He knows it will be a tough sell. But he also knows nothing will happen if people aren’t exposed to the idea so they can discuss the idea.

Belcher isn’t a fool. He provides a lot of dollar-and-cents reasons for going with quality preschool for children, including the fact that children who come to school unprepared are more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law later in life instead of becoming the workers and good citizens we’d like all children to grow up to be.

Learn more by reading this March 4, 2011 article in the Columbia Business Times.

 

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If you’re of a certain age, the idea of a basement conjures up images of dark, dank spider-filled spaces.

Looking at this Basement Transformation article published in the February/March issue of Columbia Home, you can get an entirely new view of a basement. The lower level of Gail and John Metz’s Columbia, Missouri, home was a once catchall, a jumble of the refuge of their busy lives. A complete renovation with the help of Kerry Bramon Remodeling & Design created a Colorado-lodge-like space complete with a kitchen, living room with a roaring fireplace and even his and hers offices. This article features photographs by Deanna Dikeman.

As a reporter, the challenge with this article was to write a paragraph to go with every picture. Sounds easy, right? But I’m used to writing an article that flows with transitions and explanations. To simply write a line or two to go with a photograph was a challenge, but an exciting one. Since I’m not just a writer, but a reader of magazines such as This Old House, I know how important those captions with pictures are. Take a look at the article and see whether you read the article or just the captions for the photographs.

Or do the different elements, the captions, photos and article give you what journalists call different entry points?

I hope so. Even more I hope you enjoy the article!

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At my first journalism job in 1987, one day my editor asked me if I was a writer or a reporter. I wasn’t sure what she meant by the question but I answered writer. She said good, that meant I’d always be looking for the right word and a way to make my writing better.

She was right, but today, I think I might answer reporter because I have come to think we need more facts, figures and accuracy than pretty writing. Yet, I still go back and forth. It doesn’t matter how important the facts are if no one reads them.

On that note, the Writer magazine, offers tips on how to write as well as how to research. And just as important, how to sell your work. It also helps writers keep up with the times, with articles on issues such as copy right, social media and provides an excellent, resource-filled website.

So what do you think? Is it more important to be a writer or a reporter?

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This 2000 S. Country Club Drive home is a 1924 version of a teardown, a situation in which a home is removed so the builder can construct something bigger and better in its spot.

Yes, this 100-year-old home, featured in Columbia Home & Lifestyle’s December 2010/January 2011 issue once stood across the street. Read about it and see the beautiful photographs taken by Deanna Dikeman here. (Reprinted with permission from CHL.)

Builder Berry McAlester moved this elegant, stone house it from its original site in 1924 so he could build a more elaborate home on its original site.

As it is often said, there’s nothing new under the sun, and so here’s a house from 1910 that represents a 1924 type of teardown.

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Several Columbia firms have found a foothold in China, one of the world’s most massive markets.

How is this possible? Columbia isn’t on the coast, where you might think of industries turning to foreign markets.

Instead, Columbia and mid-Missouri is home to exceptional entrepreneurs who look beyond today and local, state and even national boundaries. This article outlines tips and some cautionary tales to help others access the Chinese market.

For example, Environmental Dynamics Inc. has been doing business in this Asian country for more than 10 years. During that time Jerry Conner of that company says they’ve learned the most crucial factor in doing business in China is guanxi or networking. The Chinese, he said, want to know they are going to see you and your firm again. They want to know about your firm, you and who you know that they might know.

That means if you want to work in China, you’ll need patience and diligence to establish guanxi.

It also means you may need help to get started. Jason Van Eaton of Spectrum Consulting Group saw this need as a business opportunity. Today, the firm started three years ago is working with 20 companies to help them break into the China market.

Alex LaBrunerie of LaBrunerie Financial launched Rising Tide to access investment information after deciding that the China market was the next big thing. The first thing he did was network and he found right here in Columbia someone who knew a major Chinese expert in that country’s equity investment information industry.

Russ Potterfield is so certain China is where he needs to be to help his company, Battenfeld Technologies, thrive he moved his whole family to Shenzhen, China, including his wife, who had to interrupt her own career teaching at Westminster College, and his three young sons. The move might seem extreme, but only to those who can’t see the future.

Of course, all these business people have their eyes open. They know that there are things to watch out for. But that didn’t stop them and the advice they offer should help other Columbia entrepreneurs access the Asian markets.

As Van Eaton said, a business already has a strategy to get into China or it will in five years. And then, he noted, it could be too late.

 

 

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Should cultural diversity be considered an economic development tool? Perhaps.

In this article about Rising Tide and the Asian Equity Research Institute (AERI), a research center at the University of Missouri, Alex LaBrunerie, one of the principals behind both of these organizations, credited Columbia’s cultural diversity for making both of these businesses a reality.

That’s because it was through a connection with a Chinese national who was working for a friend of his that he made contact with one of the major players in the Chinese equity information business. That’s how a small city in mid-Missouri (Columbia, population 100,000) has developed two local organizations to tap into the growing powerhouse of the Chinese economy.

Read the entire article here: Jan. 7, 2011, LaBrunerie’s Leverage, Columbia Business Times. How a small financial services company in Columbia landed major players for a Chinese equity research center to help investors understand the world’s second largest economy.

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What I love about journalism is the learning never ends. Here’s an article from one of my favorite resources, the Poynter Institute, an organization dedicated to teaching journalism.

This article is on investigative journalism and cites another of my favorite organizations, IRE, which is located at the University of Missouri in my hometown, Columbia, Missouri.

The article notes that while there have been cutbacks in journalistic organizations, investigative journalism has continued to thrive.

In fact, it’s my opinion that all journalism should be considered investigative. No article should rely just on whatever the sources says. And today, with the internet, social media and other tools of the trade, there’s no need for reporters like me to rely simply on the word of a source. For example, when I interviewed Russ Potterfield and asked him if he was concerned about the possibility of his products being produced in inhumane conditions, he said since there was a labor shortage, he believed that anyone unhappy with working conditions could simply leave their job. Years ago, I would have had to take his word for it or had to attempt to find an expert in Chinese labor trends. Today, I could review several international publications documenting the lack of skilled workers in China.

That is not strictly investigative journalism, but it does show that today journalists can do their jobs better than ever. And that’s good news for journalism and people who want to stay informed.

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Columbia, Missouri is replete with energetic entrepreneurs, but the most lively person I’ve interviewed so far is Russ Potterfield. Before leaving for China to accompany my husband David J. O’Brien to a convention where he was giving a presentation.

When I learned Russ, a local businessman, had opened an office in China just this summer, I quickly made plans, via email, to meet with him. After all, how many Columbia companies have offices in China? Turns out more than you might think.

At any rate, despite the demands of opening on overseas office, Russ took several hours to meet with me, describe all the amazing opportunities his new venture was providing for him and his family. For me, it was an amazing opportunity to meet such an energetic, farseeing individual.

Once again, I feel I am so lucky to be a journalist and have the opportunity to write about local, well kind of local, businesses and the people operating them. Congrats on the new office, Russ.

Dec. 24, 2010, Russ Potterfield’s China presence proving profitable Battenfeld improves logistics with satellite office, Columbia Business Times.

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One of the things I love about journalism is how it helps me and readers see new connections by bringing information together, in this case, the history and economics of movie theatres.

I’ve lived in Columbia twice, once from 1991-1995, then from 1998 until now, but I never realized that the beautiful theatre buildings on Ninth Street revealed literally the concrete results of the roaring 1920s.

During the 1920s, thousands of movie theaters were built across the country. Actually, these buildings were called movie palaces because that’s what they were — ornate, beautiful, fanciful buildings where people went to see the developing medium, moving picture shows.

But what goes up must come down, which explains why by the time I moved to Columbia, the former Hall Theatre was vacant, the Missouri Theatre was struggling and the former Varsity Theatre had not yet become the successful live music venue, The Blue Note.

After the roaring 1920s, the Great Depression came along and decades later, television and the move to the suburbs were other changes that explain why so many downtown movie palaces were left vacant or converted to other uses.

By 1962, the number of movie theaters had fallen to 9,150, down from 14,716 in 1954. As one source noted, the glut of buildings in the 1920s led to the glut of demolition in the 1950s and 1960s.

But I think the wave of destruction is over. Today, the Hall Theatre houses the Panera Bread Company, The Blue Note continues to be a successful live music venue and the chief of operations at the Missouri Theatre has a plan designed to solve its financial problems.

This connection to the roaring 1920s was not visible to me until reporting connected the dots along Ninth Street. That’s why journalism, in which information is put into context, is so important.

Read the two-page package published on June 25, 2010 in the Columbia Business Times either at this link or below.

CBT Columbia Cinema Evolution p1 062510

CBT Columbia Cinema Evolution p2 062510

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