The Passing of Sue Carlson

Well, this is not what I intended to write about in my first foray in to the world of The Prosperity Blog. But, many of you who have been working in and around economic development in the Puget Sound region for some time will remember with fondness and respect Sue Carlson. So it is with sadness that I inform you that, after a valiant, lengthy, and hard fought battle with cancer, Sue passed away peacefully early this morning.

Sue worked for the City of Renton as its Economic Development Director, and as the Administrator of the Dept. of Economic Development, Neighborhoods and Strategic Planning from 1993-2002. During her time here, Sue was instrumental in transforming Renton’s downtown into an emerging mixed-use center of activity; consolidating our auto dealerships into the “auto mall” at the corner of I-405 and Rainier Avenue; laying the foundation for The Landing, Fry’s, and the other developments adjacent to Boeing’s Renton Plant; our “ahead of the curve” community marketing campaign; bringing IKEA to Renton; streamlining our permitting processes; helping to establish our Neighborhood Program; Renton’s head-first acceptance of the Growth Managment Act; and many other key elements that collectively helped to make Renton the great community it is today. After leaving Renton, she joined the Segale Family in their efforts to plan and redevelop several hundred acres of property south of Tukwila. Sue was a competitor, who didn’t back down from a challenge and that is how she approached her battle with cancer.
Personally, I owe her much of my success. She took a chance when she hired me as her deputy and Economic DeveIopment Director in 2001 without out any municipal or direct economic development experience. I will always remember the lessons she taught me–to always think big, to never let people tell me “no,” and to never underestimate what is possible with creativity, hard work, and persistence. I will forever be grateful that I had the blessing and opportunity of working alongside Sue and, more importantly, of having her friendship.
Sue’s husband Rune has indicated that a celebration of life service will be scheduled in the coming weeks here in Renton–per Sue’s wishes and her fond feelings about the Renton community. I will post the specifics when I receive them. If you feel inclined to do so, in lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be sent to the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, or to the cancer treatment center of your choice. Additionally, Mayor Law informed me that he will be working with Rune to establish a memorial fund in Sue’s name through the Renton Community Foundation.
Thank you for indulging me by reading this. I look forward to sharing happier news, notes and perspectives on regional land use and economic development issues in the future.
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