Gov. Lamont Announces New Construct for State’s Aggressive Economic Development Strategy
New Public-Private Partnership will Recruit and Retain Businesses; Names New Commissioner of DECD and Senior Economic Advisor
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today unveiled key components of his vision to transform the state’s economic development strategy: aggressive business recruitment; collaborative work across agencies to better support existing businesses and onboard new ones; as well as a strategic and long-term economic policy focus, including in the important area of opportunity zones. To execute on this vision, Governor Lamont is nominating David Lehman, a partner with Goldman Sachs, to serve in dual roles as the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and as the Governor’s Senior Economic Advisor.
In addition, Governor Lamont announced that two of Connecticut’s principal economic development entities – the nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) and DECD – will form an innovative public-private partnership known as the Partnership to Advance the Connecticut of Tomorrow (PACT). Through this collaboration, CERC will function as the outward-facing recruitment arm on behalf of the state, and DECD will continue to support, promote, and advocate for existing businesses while also serving as the central resource to help new businesses navigate state and local government to minimize lag time, enhance services, and expedite relocation. As part of his mandate, Lehman will ensure tight alignment between CERC and DECD.
“David had expressed his interest in public service at the same time that I was looking for the right person to oversee the totality of our state’s economic policy and development,” Governor Lamont said. “I am grateful that someone of his caliber with as much finance and investment experience as he has is willing to roll up his sleeves and join state government at this critical juncture. For too long, we’ve looked at economic growth and development in silos instead of with a comprehensive view that allows us to see the impact of our decisions on the long-term financial sustainability and success of our state, and therefore, our residents. In addition, his extensive experience working in commercial real estate will allow us to fully maximize opportunity zones through DECD, many of which are in the most distressed areas of our state.”
“I am honored to join Governor Lamont’s administration, and I do so with the strong belief in the importance of public service and a sense of pride in the state that I call home,” Lehman said. “I’ve been impressed with Governor Lamont’s unique ideas to bring the private sector to the table to work in collaboration with state government, and that’s the mindset that I will bring with me to this new role. Being able to help shape the state’s economic policy and oversee DECD, as well as the coordination of PACT – which will help solidify Connecticut’s reputation as a state that is ready, willing, and able to help support new and growing business ventures – is something that I am energized by and eager to begin.”
As part of the formation of PACT, which will be memorialized through a memorandum of understanding, the membership of CERC’s board of directors will be revised and expanded to more accurately reflect both the geography and business diversity of the state.
In addition, CERC’s research will focus on competitive insights to help support business retention, expansion, and recruitment, and the municipal support program will be more specifically directed toward economic development and project management activities. Former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi of Greenwich and former Webster Bank Chairman and CEO Jim Smith of Middlebury were selected last week to serve as co-chairs of the board and will help steer this transition.
“We look forward to expanding CERC’s board, making it illustrative of the Connecticut we are, but more importantly, the Connecticut we want to be,” Nooyi and Smith said in a joint statement. “The most visible change at CERC will be the redirection and exponential expansion of resources available to engage directly in business development activities. We’ll recruit ambassadors from the business community to provide financial support and active participation in business development. We are excited to leverage our private sector relationships and experience as we aggressively attract businesses and market our state as a place with an educated workforce, a great quality of life, and a supportive state government.”
Lehman is currently the Global Head of Real Estate Finance for the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. He also has leadership responsibility for the company’s Public Sector and Infrastructure Finance group. He has been with Goldman for 15 years and in the private sector for almost 20 years. He will begin his new position with the state the week of February 19, and his nomination will be sent to the General Assembly for its advice and consent.
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