The Seattle banker who became one of the world's most influential women in banking, the man who set Alaska Airlines on the road to national leadership in its industry and Seattle's clown king of fish and chips have been selected as 2016 laureates of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame.
Those who have watched or experienced Liz Marchi's commitment to provide funding for Montana entrepreneurs and startups for a decade might suggest that the term "angel investor" was coined specifically to describe her.
It was 2003 that Marchi, who had arrived in Montana with three daughters and her then husband and settled in the Flathead Valley, decided to create the state's first angel fund, Frontier Angel Fund I. The fund closed in 2006 at $1.7 million, $300,000 more than she had hoped.
She eventually guided the Kalispell-based fund, which had attracted investors from around the country who were either fans of or summer residents in the Big Sky Country, to lead three deals and gather a total of 12 active investments and was soon also overseeing angel groups that had sprung up in Missoula and Bozeman.
Because she successfully syndicated her deals with a number of other angel groups outside the state, she jokes that she has become "the grandmother of crowd funding." She's not referring to the formal definition of crowd funding but rather the syndication efforts she initiated that attracted a crowd of angels from numerous groups making small investments.
Now Marchi, who grew up near Jackson Hole, WY, but who had never been to Montana when she arrived here in 2000, says she is looking forward to making the investor-leader handoff to Will Price, whose roots in the state brought him back from Silicon Valley to create Next Frontier Capital, at $20 million the largest venture fund ever raised in the state.
Price, on the board of or a key executive with a number of Bay Area tech companies, did his due diligence on the attitudes of national venture and mergers & acquisitions firms toward Montana before making the move to Bozeman.
Price's fund, which closed last April a year following his decision to bring his family to the state where his father, Kent Price, is well known as Montana's first Rhodes Scholar and University of Montana board member, has already made two investments.
I've kidded Liz and her husband, Jon, who in 1978 founded Glacier Venture fund as the first venture fund in Montana and presided over it for 29 years, about being "Mr. and Mrs. Montana Money." To which she once responded: "We are more like Mr. and Mrs. Montana risk capital since we share a very high risk tolerance...and often share the consequences."
Although Marchi talks about making a handoff to Price, as well as "the next generation of angels, including some members of Fund II in their '30s, who slay me in terms of their abilities," she was completing the formation in August of $2.7 million Frontier Fund II, which has already invested $900,000 with syndication adding $300,000 for a total of $1.2 million already invested.
"We have 48 investors in 10 states and meet physically in Bozeman and the Flathead, alternating with a WebEx option," Marchi said, noting that investors met in Bozeman today, with investors from two continents and four states, including Montana investors from Bozeman and Kalispell to review three Bozeman companies.
That sounds less like "handing off" for the 62-year-old Marchi than welcoming the potential follow-on investment opportunity that venture capital can represent for angel. And she hopes Price's fund will provide.
She says she does have an agreement with Fund II to be the key administrator only for the next two years, but could opt to remain longer. And she is down to business cards representing her current five involvements.
But Marchi is genuinely pleased at the implications of the arrival in Montana of Price, who did his homework before deciding a venture fund could work in Montana.
Price shared with me the research he did with and his thoughts about how "changing values" will benefit Montana's ability to attract capital.
Montana was often dismissed as a "fly-over" state, meaning that the most viable potential investors on the east and west coasts usually just fly over on their way to the other coast.
But Price's SurveyMonkey sampling of both venture and merger & acquisitions firms and found that the appeal of the big sky to many increasingly disenchanted with urban challenges was strong but that direct air access is a challenge Montana must come to grips with.
Fully 70 percent of responding M&A firms said they would consider buying a company in Montana, even though 80 percent said they had never been to the state. And a third of the venture firms said they would consider doing a deal in Montana, although 47 percent said they had never been there.
The import of improved air access to a state that has no direct flights currently to the major markets was dramatically indicated with the response of M&A firms, 90 percent of whom said it was "important" or "Moderately important" to have direct air access to the market of their investment.
"That's something the state is going to have to address," Price said. "But I think it will be addressed."
Among venture firms, almost two thirds sad the quality of the local syndicate partner would determine their involvement.
Although Marchi herself has attracted investors from around the country, she observes that "Being away from the noise of the coasts keeps us grounded in an important way.
"The entire conversation and perception needs to move about rural America, what is going on here and its role in making our economy and our country work better," she said, expressing the principle that has guided her commitment to Montana entrepreneurs.
It also served as a reminder of earlier days for those in other industries who once used teletype machines for transmission of information, including one who recalled the occasional flawed keystrokes that occurred when creation of the art followed holiday parties.
Since each year brings new names to the list of those receiving Flynn's Harp, there are some who haven't previously seen the art. For that reason, and because fond memories are served by repetition, here is a the annual sharing of this Christmas art.
|Steve Paul, 'Elf Bernie'|
|Alaska pilot Eric Hrivnak|
If Global Entrepreneurship Week, the annual worldwide celebration of innovators and job creators, had been a competition among nations, states and regions, Washington State could have laid claim to being the hands-down winner. And that would be appropriate recognition for the man who has guided much of this state's effort to advance entrepreneurship, particularly in rural areas and particularly with young people, for 25 years.
Maury Forman, senior manager for the Washington State Department of Commerce, is proud of the fact that in this state, GEW 2015 was actually Global Entrepreneurship Month and extended to every corner of the state with activities in all 39 counties. Four years ago, when Forman plugged the state into GEW activities, three counties participated.Forman says "we are changing the way communities look at economic development." That's an outgrowth of his effort, over much of his quarter century overseeing key economic-development sectors, to develop a culture of entrepreneurism in rural areas.
Global Entrepreneurship week was founded in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation, the Kansas City-based 501c3 that is the nation's pre-eminent entrepreneur-focused organization, to create an annual celebration of innovators and job creators who launch the start-ups that drive economic growth.
Forman, who joined what was then the Department of Trade and Economic Development in 1991 in a career transition from healthcare at the age of 40, says "No other state can claim that every part of the state had at least one event that celebrated entrepreneurship."
"One of the exciting aspects of this year's celebration of entrepreneurship was the number of high school programs being held throughout the state," Forman said. "In many cases, college isn't the natural next step it was once for high school students so these programs expose them to the idea of starting their own business once they graduate. Or if they do go on to college, they can focus their education on skills that will allow them to start a business in the years to come."
Forman says he has kept his primary focus on rural economies because "they need the assistance much more than urban communities," as well as because he has become convinced that the strategies for growth of many rural areas that has been focused on recruiting companies from out of state is outdated.
"That has to change if rural communities are to survive," Forman said. "Communities have to be shingle ready and not just shovel ready."
In a recent article in Governing, a national magazine covering state and local government news, Forman wrote about Washington's three-year-old program called Startup Washington that focuses on building local economies "organically" by serving the needs of local startups and entrepreneurs.
Forman is likely among the national leaders in the conviction that programs to enhance local economic development "must nurture the belief that young people who grow up in rural communities can be guided to start businesses in their own community rather than moving to urban centers."
"Just as young people are looking at new ways to enter the work force other than working for someone else, so too are communities looking for ways other than recruitment of businesses from elsewhere to grow their economies," Forman said.
One of the ways he is seeking to do that "is by matching those students that are serious about being entrepreneurs with mentors, especially in rural communities."
Indeed matching students who hope to be entrepreneurs with mentors is becoming the model for successful communities, particularly rural ones, to pursue.
Some communities have long been employing that model, as chronicled in the oft-quoted book written by Jack Schultz, founder and CEO of Agracel, a firm based in Effingham, IL, that specializes in industrial development in small towns.
It was in pondering why some small towns succeed where others fail that Schultz set out on the backroads to rural America to find out as he became the nation's guru of rural economic development and wrote of his travels in Boomtown USA: the 7 ½ keys to Big Success in Small Towns.
I emailed Schultz about entrepreneurism's role in small town success and a possibly emerging role for mentor programs.
"Embracing entrepreneurism in communities has been a key factor that differentiated great communities from also-rans," he emailed back. "Increasingly, we are seeing those great communities taking it a step up by tying their local entrepreneurs up with their young people, educating them on both entrepreneurship and also the great things happening in the private sector of their towns."
Schultz' successes in believing in small-town entrepreneurs and small-business lending is partly responsible for the fact the Effingham-based bank he helped found and now chairs the board, has grown eight fold to $2.9 billion in assets and gone public.
"At Midland States Bank, we have very much focused on small business lending and it has been a major factor in our growth over the last several years," Schultz said.
In an unusual and innovative commitment to the dozens of communities it serves, the bank has funded a not-for-profit institute to expand an entrepreneurship class that was started in Effingham eight years ago and has now expanded to 27 other towns.
Forman seemed intrigued by the details Schultz provided: The class meets each day during the school year from 7:30 to 9 am; meets in local businesses; is totally funded by local businesses with a maximum contribution of $1,000 per business or individual. Each class has a business and each student must also start a business.
Meanwhile, Forman approaches his 25th anniversary with the department on January 1 having collected numerous regional and national awards for his work and successes. Those include last year winning the international Economic Development Leadership Award and recognitionby the Teens in Public Service Foundation with the Unsung Hero Award for his work with at risk kids.
He has authored 14 books related to economic development, and has also designed and developed creative "game show' learning tools, including Economic Development Jeopardy, Economic Development Feud and two board games for the profession.
Forman credits the directors who have guided the department over his time there for allowing him "to be intrapreneurial," meaning behaving like an entrepreneur while working in a large organization, noting "not many government agencies allow the freedom to take risks in an effort to solve a given problem."
The final round of the men's World Squash Championship Sunday offered more than enough competitive drama as Frenchman Gregory Gaultier's long frustration at this event ended with a championship trophy. But the human drama and emotion that involved both Gaultier and his finals opponent, Egyptian Omar Mosaad, was equally compelling.
The Oregon Court of Appeals building in Salem is just across the street from the Willamette University Campus. But 29 years of memories separate the two for Betsy and me, from that day we left Meagan standing on the curb, both she and we a little uncertain as we drove away from the young lady about to begin her college career, to the day last week when she was sworn in as Oregon's newest appellate court judge.
Most of these weekly Flynn's Harp missives, over the six and a half years I have been writing and emailing them to more than 1,400 friends and acquaintances, have been about people and issues I think readers in business, politics and academia, should know about.
But occasionally recollections of the personal have seemed important enough to share, ranging from the day Betsy and I moved from our home of 40 years, taking with us the four decades of memories, to fond recollections of my '55 T-Bird, my mom and my 100-meter medal at the World Senior Games four months after my successful colon-cancer surgery.
And so it is with this personal reflection on the young lady who now wears the judge's robe.
The first-born child inevitably holds a special place in the emotions of parents, even though it always turns out there is enough love to share with subsequent children. And thus it was when Meagan arrived in July of 1967.
In fact Meagan always occupied a special place for not just her parents, but for many who have had occasion to get to know her. That included the fifth-grade teacher in Kalispell, MT, where Betsy and the three kids settled in while I spent six months as editor of a daily newspaper in my home state.
"A teacher spends their life waiting for the perfect student, and she was it," her teacher told me, with fondness and sadness, making me sad as well as I took Meagan to say goodbye to her classmates as we all headed back to Seattle where I was returning to work at UPI.
Meagan always had a competitive bent, which she usually did a good job of hiding, except as a seventh grader in Piedmont, CA, when she found that a male student was challenging her for top student. Her jaw always locked a bit when the male student came up in conversations. The two of them ran for 8th grade class president (except the title was commissioner general) in a hotly contested race that she won, expressing smug pleasure at coming out on top.
She had a goal of being an attorney from early on because her role model was her cousin, Sheila, who was a very successful Seattle attorney.
As she prepared to graduate from Holy Names Academy in Seattle, where she was salutatorian of her class, I urged her to apply to Stanford because her friend, who was valedictorian, was applying there.
"Be cool if you could say you were accepted to Stanford," I told her, even though I knew she had already decided she wanted to attend Willamette.
To my surprise, though likely not her's, she was accepted to Stanford and I feared she would decide she wanted to go there since it would have been a financial challenge for us at that time.
But the ducks on the pond at Willamette, which were the initial attraction the day she first visited the school (although its academic reputation and its law school had roles in the final decision), had already drawn her interest to Willamette.
Good thing, since that's where she met her husband to be, who was also intent on become an attorney, though eventually Gonzaga law school won out for both of them and after graduating they built partner-role practices at separate small firms in Portland. They also provided us two of our granddaughters.
Meagan's practice focus was as a specialist in doing appeals and I once asked her if it was difficult to get the judges to take her case.
Once we learned Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber had appointed her to the court, the potential downside of a daughter who was a judge started to emerge, as when Betsy advised me one day as I was driving up I-5: "You had better not get a ticket! That could be very embarrassing to your daughter!"
So last week she was sworn in as Oregon's newest judge on the court of appeals by the same judge whom she went to work for as a clerk 20 years ago, soon after he had taken his oath as a then-new appeals court judge himself. He brought to her swearing-session last week a picture of that first clerk-judge meeting in 1994.
Now they are both among the 13 judges serving on the Court of Appeals.
Perhaps the most compelling reminder of time's passage is the passage of the icons of youth. So it was when I learned recently of the death more than a year ago of Joe Frazier, part of the Chad Mitchell Trio, the Spokane-spawned folk group that I had followed closely since they were in college at Gonzaga University.
So if the Chad Mitchell Trio isn't a name that rings a bell for you, this would be a good time to leave this column and go on to other things. If the Chad Mitchell Trio is familiar, read on.
Chad, Mike Kobluk and Mike Pugh (soon replaced by Frazier) were three years older than me when they headed for New York in the summer of 1959 to, as the Jesuit priest who guided the university singing group of which they were a part advised them, find out if they had the talent to make it.
They did, thanks in part to being picked up by Harry Belafonte, who oversaw development of several groups of young entertainers. I watched the group in numerous TV entertainment programs, ranging from frequent stops on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Bell Telephone Hour to Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, the Steve Allen Show, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Hootenany and listened to their records that often waxed irreverent in ways that eluded other folk groups.
There was a sense of a personal bond at first because Chad had run the 440 in high school and I broke his record in the state high school meet.
But it became a more personal bond a decade ago when, learning that Chad had returned to Spokane, I searched his telephone number in the hope of doing an interview with him. But what to say when I called his number?
When I called, young woman, who turned out to be his teenage daughter, answered. I asked "is Chad there?"
When he came on the line, I explained who I was, but knowing he'd be little impressed to be talking to the publisher of a business newspaper in Seattle, I quickly said: "I broke your 440 record in high school."
"Oh, what was your time?"
"I ran 50.6," I said.
"Cool, what was mine?"
"You ran 51 flat."
"Crummy time, but that was my junior year. When I was a senior, I was getting beaten regularly by another guy on the team and the coach said 'I don't need two quarter milers, so Chad, you're going to run then 880.'"
"Good thing for me. I won the state championship in the 880 that year," he said.
At that point we had bonded, so we set up an interview on my next Spokane visit.
During our interview at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Chad shared the recollection that the Chad Mitchell Trio had been offered first rights to do Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" as a single. But their producer turned it down with the explanation that "no song with 'death' in it has ever made it into the top 50," Mitchell told me. They soon parted company with that producer after the song became a major hit for Peter, Paul and Mary. It was the closest the trio came to a number-one hit.
It had been exactly 40 years, at the time of our interview, since Chad had departed his eponymous trio in 1965, and in the interview he discussed that departure with remarkable candor. "I left the group because it was time. A trio, three, is the worst possible number. It's always two against one. And there eventually came to be the question of 'why are we the Chad Mitchell Trio?' In fact the name Chad Mitchell Trio turned out to be a mistake. The last couple of albums we were just the Mitchell Trio."
"But we're adults now. And we're close friends," he said. In fact, he then lived near Kobluk, the deep-voiced member of the group who did many of the solos, including Four Strong Winds and the group's perhaps-best-remembered Marvelous Toy.
The search for Mitchell's replacement when he left the trio turned up a young singer named John Deutschendorf, who was later to become John Denver.
"Denver was a charmer," Mitchell recalled. "We had a lot of integrity in what we tried to do and Denver learned being meaningful from the trio."
The Chad Mitchell Trio never had a million-selling record, but over the first half of a decade that became the turbulent '60s, the trio used national-television appearances and college-campus performances to become among that era's best-known folk singers.
Several years after our 2005 interview, the group decided to return to the performance circuit, giving me an opportunity to do a column on them focused on the fact that they were helping redefine the meaning of encore.
I wrote: "For the trio members, encore means performing again, years later. In fact, a half-century on since that summer of 1959 when they headed by car for New York to seek their fortune. The trio is slated for a performance what will mark the 50th anniversary celebration in the city where they got their start as collegians."
The trio found themselves before audiences a half dozen or more times in each of the next several years, and as Chad explained: "Our producers are the ones who wanted us to do the one in Spokane again because the first time, they figured people wouldn't think we were any good after all these years. But it turned out we were all pleased with the reception."
The fact was that to the audience, they were excellent. Since they had all turned 70, they had clearly aged, but not unappealingly. Their voices had lost a little, but not a lot. And their enthusiasm was every bit as charged as when many in the audience of their era saw them lo those 50 years earlier.
One of their last perfomances was a Los Angeles fund raiser a few years ago for the Big Bear Lake Episcopal church where Frazier had been vicar for years.
Poignantly, the trio had scheduled a performance last November and, despite Frazier's death a few months earlier at age 77, they went ahead with the final performance with Ron Greenstein, who had played bass for the trio since 2009 and had been filling in for Joe on vocals since 2011, joining Chad and Mike for the last concert.
|Ana Mari Cauce|
|Jon Huntsman Sr. and Karen|
|Gary and Rose Neeleman|