Susan Joseph Nielsen joins Commerce as Rural Services Manager in Eastern Washington

Washington State Department of Commerce adds to team connecting rural and underserved communities with economic development resources.

Rural outreach

Susan Joseph Nielsen

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce has hired Susan Joseph Nielsen as rural services manager in eastern Washington. Nielsen joins Commerce’s marketing and rural services team to lead Economic Gardening and Startup 365 programs, as well as provide export training and other technical assistance to small businesses east of the Cascades. She will also partner with local associate development organizations on a range of economic development projects.

Commerce has emphasized strengthening rural and underserved communities, forming a statewide team of regional outreach experts in 2016 and, in August this year, hiring Lynn Longan to direct rural strategies and business services for the agency’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness..

“We are excited to add Susan’s extensive background in leading businesses and organizations to our team serving rural communities,” said Brian Bonlender, Commerce director. “We have one of the strongest state economies in the nation, and one of Commerce’s top priorities is to help develop the full potential of that growth and prosperity in all communities.”

“I am looking forward to working throughout the state to help strengthen rural communities through economic development strategies and programs, such as those supporting small business owners, entrepreneurship, and ‘Main Street’ revitalization,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen brings 25 years of experience in strategic communications, public relations, reputation management and media relations, leading numerous community initiatives and private projects. Before joining Commerce, she was regional executive director of College Success Foundation, and she is founder and principal of Strategic Niche, LLC. Nielsen holds master’s degree in public administration/business administration from Eastern Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Washington State University. She is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America.

Nielsen joins 12 fellow Commerce staff members based out of the agency’s Spokane office, located at 10 N. Post Street, Suite 445, Spokane, WA 99201. Together they represent Commerce’s full portfolio of more than 100 programs, including infrastructure funding, growth management, affordable housing, homelessness and other services in eastern Washington communities.  Nielsen can be reached at (509) 220-6048 or

Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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