Photo of Lynn Longan, Rural Strategies Manager for the Washington State Department of CommerceFriends and colleagues, it’s true. I’ve returned to my old stomping grounds.  It seems that I just can’t stay away from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Wait, I’m acting like everyone knows me – my apologies.  There are a lot of new faces and names out there in the economic development world these days, so let me introduce myself.  I am Lynn Longan and I’ve been hired by the Department of Commerce to manage the rural economic strategy for the state.  I will be doing this by picking up where Maury Forman left off, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural and underserved communities get the training, education and support they need while working closely with those in the ADO network to make sure our programs, services and policies are aligned with the needs of local communities.

Simple right?

This new role brings me full circle in some respects. I started at the Department of Community Development (DCD) in 1991 as a Clerk Typist 3 and worked my way up and into economic development in 1998.  I’ve held a wide variety of positions in Commerce, ( or OTED, or CTED) over the years, but some of my key accomplishments were overseeing the development of the first ChooseWashington website and my working with our ADOs in a regional capacity to carry projects forward using CERB, Job Development Funds, Strategic Reserve Funds and other key programs.  In 2014, I left Commerce to join the EDC of Mason County as their Executive Director.  Mason County is my home it was a great experience as I got to guide economic development at the local level.   I left the EDC in a good place and now Jennifer Baria will keep the momentum going in Mason.  I have a lot of respect for economic developers throughout the state and the work you do in your communities. I’m excited to get updated and reconnected with each of you.

As Rural Strategies Manager,  I will be managing the Economic Gardening program, Global Entrepreneurship Week, Startup 365, the Startup Washington website, and other innovative entrepreneurship programs and services.  I will also be working with others at Commerce as well as many of you to create a professional development program for economic developers.  My success here relies heavily on my relationships with all of you.  That being said, I will be out and about in the coming months, reconnecting with you and asking lots of questions about what you are doing at the local and regional level.  I am not monitoring your work; I’m simply looking for nuggets and best practices that we could possibly duplicate in other communities.

Structurally, I am part of the new Rural & Marketing Services team in the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness.  This means we will have a unique opportunity to share our local successes with a broader audience while being able to tap into an amazing team of marketing and rural specialists when we need it.  This includes a new Rural Specialist assigned to Eastern Washington who will be focused on economic development, education, training and exporting.

I will also be playing a small part in the formation of the Washington State Tourism Marketing Authority (TMA).  As you may recall, the legislature passed a bill to fund tourism and the TMA will be responsible for overseeing the execution of a new marketing strategy for Washington. The first meeting takes place Aug. 30.

As you can see, I’m going to be really busy (I’ve already been here a month and it doesn’t seem like it) but I am excited about the opportunity to build economic vitality and strengthen communities across the state.  So, I hope to at least chat with each of you in the next 60 days.  In the meantime, if you have any events coming up or just plain can’t wait to talk to me, please give me a call.  I look forward to getting acquainted with you, or reacquainted, as the case may be.  I will be stopping by the Northwest Economic Development Course this week and then I’ll be attending WEDA as well as the ADO Best Practices meeting.  I hope to see many of you at one of those places.

Looking forward to working with you,