Jeff Montgomery, business reporter, 6 years at the TH, Dubuque

For almost seven years now, I have had the privilege of covering local business in Dubuque.

Prior to arriving in Dubuque, I had worked at newspapers in Freeport, Ill. and Eldridge, Iowa. In the first job, I covered an economy that was in free-fall in the midst of the Great Recession. In the second, I was working in a town of just 5,000 people where vibrant business stories were few and far between.

I arrived at the Telegraph Herald in December 2013. Even in the dead of winter, Dubuque represented a breath of fresh air.

From the abundance of manufacturing jobs to the emergence of the Millwork District, I spent my first six years at the Telegraph Herald covering a city on the rise.

During that time, I worked with my editors to develop a couple of recurring features that have proven popular among readers: Made in the Tri-States has focused on local “makers,” from manufacturers to coffee roasters and beer brewers; and Biz Buzz has provided a series of brief, business-related tidbits on a weekly basis.

In 2020, the six-year run of reporting on largely positive business news came to an abrupt end. COVID-19 has turned the lives of business owners and everyday citizens upside down.

My role has changed too.

Instead of covering a booming business scene, I am chronicling the struggles that entrepreneurs face as they attempt to emerge from an unprecedented crisis.

I have also dedicated a growing amount of time to other areas of focus.

In recent months, I have taken a deep dive into the state of Iowa’s flawed COVID-19 data system and completed an in-depth story about the impact of a local nonprofit that supports homeless women and children.

Over the course of my career in journalism, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for what it means to work in this business.

The past year – and the difficulties that have come with it — have only reinforced that. People need journalists now more than ever.

Against that backdrop, I am immensely proud to work for this newspaper, with this team of professionals and in this community.