Gov. Ned Lamont turned to a New Havener from within the ranks of his administration to shepherd Connecticut’s economic development for the next four years.
That newly promoted New Havener is Alexandra Daum, a local landlord and current deputy state economic development official.
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Hotel Marcel at 500 Sargent Dr., Lamont — who is barely one week out from reelection to a new four-year term as governor — announced that Daum will serve as the next commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).
She’ll replace current DECD Commissioner David Lehman, who plans to step down from his post at the end of this year.
Daum currently serves as deputy commissioner and chief investment officer for DECD. A former senior development manager at NHR Group, in recent years Daum has grown her own local real estate business, Field Properties, by buying, fixing up, and flipping rental properties.
Daum, who lives in East Rock, also serves as a member of the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), a post she has decided whether to continue holding.
“Alexandra’s worked hand in hand with David over the last three plus years,” Lamont said. “She has a strong private sector background, a Harvard education, but don’t hold that against her. She’s been on both sides of the desks when it comes to these negotiations.”
The setting for the event itself served as a reminder of some of the projects that Daum has worked on during her three years as DECD deputy. Hotel Marcel, a new net-zero hotel in the old long-vacant Armstrong building, is one such state-assisted development to open up recently.
Lamont praised Daum as being “right on the front line” of negotiations that led to other key local and state development projects, like the new 10-story biotower at 101 College St. And he praised her “entrepreneurial background” as representing “the future” of this state.
Lehman (pictured) described Wednesday as a “bittersweet day” for him. He praised Lamont for his commitment to “vibrant and inclusive” economic growth. And he described Daum as “a tireless worker” who currently oversees “our most important investment programs,” such as brownfield remediation programs and the community investment program.
“With Alexandra at the helm, I believe the people of Connecticut are getting an incredibly smart, tenacious, effective, and devoted public servant,” Lehman said.
“We have a lot of good things going,” Daum said about assuming the top role at DECD. “I’m not going to rock the boat.” She said she wants current state DECD programs to “keep going” and yield all of the positive results that they can.
With six weeks to go before she officialy takes on the role of commissioner, she said, “I’m very confident we’re going to have a smooth transition.”
Daum said that one of the roles she’s most eager to take on as top state economic development official is “chief salesperson for the state of Connecticut.”
“We spend a lot of time selling the state to developers” to try to convince them to invest in Connecticut, she said. Same goes for trying to convince businesses to “set up shop” in the state.
“Like any good salesperson, it really helps a lot if you really believe in what you’re selling,” Daum said. “I’m really well equipped to be the chief salesperson for the state, because I could not believe more in Connecticut.”
Daum said she is not sure yet if she’ll be stepping down from her role on the city’s BZA: “I’m talking to the mayor about it.” She said she continues to own investment properties in New Haven but has shrunk her portfolio since taking on the state job.