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Lamont names Connecticut’s new economic development team

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Gov. Ned Lamont introduces his team of economic advisors at Upward Hartford, Feb. 1, 2019

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Friday a new team of business executives that will oversee Connecticut’s efforts to attract and retain businesses, including a partner with the investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The Democrat said David Lehman, the global head of real estate finance for the bank’s investment banking division, will serve as both his senior economic adviser— a new position — and commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. A transition team advising Lamont had suggested he hire someone to fill the dual roles.

“They called it a secretary of commerce, somebody who would have overall responsibility, not just for DECD, but everything from looking at education, workforce development, energy, environment, transportation and housing,” said Lamont, adding how Lehman will enable his administration to “think holistically in terms of how we recruit, keep and grow companies here in the state of Connecticut.”

David Lehman, nominated to be Commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development, Feb. 1, 2019

Lehman said he approached Lamont several weeks ago and offered to leave his job with Goldman Sachs to help the new administration.

He said Lamont’s “accessible style and pragmatic results-driven approach” appealed to him.

“I completely agree that we are going to get more done for the state and our future by working together and collaborating with colleagues in other agencies,” he said.

Lamont on Friday also named former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi and former Webster Bank chief executive Jim Smith as the new co-chairs of the existing, nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center. CERC and DECD will now form a new public-private partnership, to be known as the Partnership to Advance the Connecticut of Tomorrow or PACT.

Under that new arrangement, Lamont said CERC will function as an “aggressive recruitment arm” of the state, with the board members leveraging their personal and professional relationships with business leaders across the country. CERC will also conduct the research needed to lure companies that will be a “great fit” for Connecticut’s existing industries and talent pool, Lamont said.

DECD, meanwhile, will continue to support existing and new businesses, providing a “one-stop-shop” for businesses to expedite a company’s relocation to Connecticut, for example.

Lehman’s nomination as the next DECD commissioner will require legislative confirmation.

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