By Michelle Higginbotham, associate publisher

I was not born and raised in Springfield. When I first moved here it was by far the largest city I’d ever lived in, and I didn’t know anyone. I remember wondering how I would meet people and get involved since I had no friends or family living here.

I grew up in Collinsville and graduated from Illinois College in Jacksonville. After college, I worked briefly for theJacksonville Journal-Courier while doing freelance writing for several publications, including the Springfield Business Journal. I got to know the owners, and when their advertising manager left I was offered the position. I then moved to Springfield and worked at the SBJ from 2001-2006.

I knew I needed to get involved in the local business community, so I became an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce and started attending ribbon cuttings, Business After Hours, and other events where I had the chance to meet new people. I was invited to join a networking group that met for lunch on a monthly basis to share leads, and I eventually created several of my own networking groups that were more specifically focused. I saw an article about Habitat for Humanity looking for volunteers and offered my services. They soon asked me to serve on their board of directors, and I realized there were many nonprofits looking for young, energetic people who were willing to share their time and skills. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a number of charitable boards now, and in each case I’ve not only felt good about the organization that I was helping but also made some great friends and contacts.

When the original owners sold the Business Journal in 2006, I obtained my real estate license and began working as a commercial realtor at Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty. I was able to continue working with many of the same people I had known during my time at the SBJ, and my focus was still on working with local business owners.

One of the people I’ve had the privilege to get to know during my time in Springfield is Fletcher Farrar, who is responsible for my involvement with the Enos Park neighborhood. When he asked me if I would consider coming back to work at the Business Journal, it was an opportunity I simply couldn’t resist. There is already a great foundation in place for the SBJ and the new ownership continues the tradition of being a locally owned publication, unusual in this day and age of media conglomerates. While it will remain a separate publication from Illinois Times, I believe being able to utilize the existing resources and staff will only improve on the quality that our readers have come to expect from the Business Journal. I’m very pleased to be a part of the next chapter in the SBJ’s future.

Contact Michelle Higginbotham at