LAT's Flanigan prepares to go

Jim Flanigan's column has been a fixture in the Times Business section for more than two decades. His last piece as senior economic editor runs July 3, then he's leaving to write a book proposal about California's economy and stave off retirement. The memo follows.

To: The Staff
From: Russ Stanton, Business Editor

Jim Flanigan, the face and the voice of The Times Business section for the past two decades, will be leaving us at the end of this month.

As many of you who have worked with Jim know, "retirement" is not a word that is in his vocabulary. He has a lot planned for his post-newspaper life, starting with a book proposal on California's entrepreneurial economy currently being considered by Stanford University Press.

Jim has had a storied and colorful career at The Times, which began in earnest in 1979 when then Business Editor John Lawrence wooed him with the prospect of being the section's first columnist. At the time, Jim was Forbes magazine's Houston bureau chief. Over the next six years, Jim jumped back and forth between the two publications, in a sort of financial journalism arms race, two more times.

He rejoined The Times for good in 1986 and since 1996 has been our senior economics editor. His career has including many awards, including The Times award for explanatory journalism in 1998, a National Headliners award for column writing in 1990, and a John Hancock Award for column writing in 1988.

Jim's energy and enthusiasm for telling the great story that is the California economy has made him a role model for many in the Business section over the years. In particular, he has excelled at telling that story through the eyes of the people living it, from the titan CEOs to the mom-and-pop entrepreneurs.

Jim's last column, a piece on immigration that he has been noodling for some time, will run Sunday, July 3. His last day in the office will be Friday, July 1. We will, of course, be giving Jim a grand send-off. Stay tuned for details on same.

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