Dan Haar: Lamont pressing the star triumvirate for economic development

Gov. Down Lamont, who has long been dissatisfied with the way the state is pursuing economic development, will provide details on a Friday plan where three extremely high-profile executives will form a public-private triumvirate hoping to bring more jobs to Connecticut.

The Three is Indra Nooyi, an old friend of Lamont from the Yale School of Management and Greenwich, who recently retired as manager and CEO of PepsiCo; James Smith, retired CEO of the parents of Webster Bank, led by a commission last year aimed at redressing the state; and David Lehman, the young, fast-growing global real estate finance leader at Goldman Sach's investment bank, who approached the state to offer its services.

Lehman, 41, from Greenwich, will be named Commissioner by the State Department of Economic and Community Development "and will also be my senior financial advisor," Lamont said in an interview Thursday.

Lehman, who also heads the public sector and infrastructure group at Goldman, has been part of a wunderkind on Wall Street. At the age of 29, he was CEO, jointly on behalf of structured retail barriers – which led us to credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations infamous in mortgage financial collapse of 2007-08. Lehman defended Goldman's actions in a 2010 hearing before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

He came to us and said, "I believe in this condition, and I think I can make a very big difference," said Lamont, who did not previously know Lehman despite living in the same city.

From there, the image changes from what we have seen for decades, with a new uber unit called the Partnership to Advance Connecticut of Tomorrow, or PACT. And the goal is a more targeted effort to bring in companies that fit with the state's industries, says Lamont.

"We move away from the old model of" Hey, someone knocked on our door, "said Lamont." We want to find companies that are a natural fit here in Connecticut, where we have the wind on our backs. " 19659018] He is called defense suppliers, life sciences and healthcare, digital media and financial technology and insurance.

"They are all natural ecosystems there … I think we can do a better job of attracting them," Lamont said. ] Nooyi and Smith will co-chair the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, a public-private partnership created since 1969 by the state and about a dozen companies, mostly tools, to help cities and businesses.

CERC and DECD will unite through a formal agreement and creating PACT, the partnership.

How exactly does Smith, Nooyi and Lehman ?, and who governs what, and how a completely public agency fits into a public-private entity, are all still out. It is less important than role Lean the three to play.

Lamont sees the two retired leaders out to attract companies, and Lehman leads a DECD that manages workforce issues, brownfield relief, help for small businesses, and other traditional tasks.

"CERC is the hunter, DECD is the collector," Lamont said. "We're jumping-starting the way we keep and recruit companies and increase the economy."

The spark is the personality driven. If you're a company looking at Connecticut, Lamont said, "We'll make sure you have a peer from the corporate community."

Nooyi, 63, is the global superstar among the three. She moved to the United States from India to participate in Yale, graduated and stood up in the PepsiCo joints, just across the state line of Purchase, NY. The drink beverage and food company grew from $ 35 billion to $ 63 billion in her dozen years as CEO with total market returns of 162 percent reported CNBC when Nooyi dramatically increased its international reach.

She was the linchpin connecting Lamont and the state to Infosys, the India-based IT company that builds on its image by hiring thousands of employees in US cities, including Hartford.

Smith briefly investigated a run for governor in April last year, as Republican, after the Commission on Financial Sustainability and Economic Growth concluded its work. More recently, he co-ordinated with co-chairman Robert Patricelli to revive and change some of the panel's recommendations – which fall on all aspects of the spectrum, from a minimum wage of $ 15 to tax deductions for the rich and a 2 percent sales tax on groceries.

Previously, Lamont had, in a December interview, spoken by a "State Secretary" position, with a broader economic and recruitment mandate, heading for a "turnkey quick response team". It is unclear whether Lehman will adopt that role and title, or whether it is entered into the portfolios of all three leaders.

Lamont inherits a state economy that is down worse than performance should guarantee, at least in the past. Overall growth disappeared poorly, but 2018 showed signs of life, with two-fourths of gains reported.

Job growth under former government Dannel P. Malloy was spotty. But the state economy added 104,000 private jobs on its eight-year clock, better than any of the new governor's figures – with 23,500 of the extra jobs coming in 2018. This is the best year since the 90s, if the data stays in March revisions.

"I hope there is some positive moment in 2019, but in terms of recruiting companies," Lamont says, "We have some work to do. "

The state searched large employers under Malloy under former economic and social development commissioner Catherine Smith, whose last day was Friday. The high-profile program was called First Five, then Next Five, which inked deals for 20 companies at all. [19659012] It is seen as a success in some ways, with deals for ESPN, NBC Sports, Sikorsky, United Technologies, Bridgewater Associates and others, but it was based on large incentives of grants, loans and tax errors, some for companies as critics said, would have lived or moved here anyway. And the state offered packages to companies under two other programs, with totals of about $ 180 million a year.

Ask if he will continue with the great incentives, Lamont did not have a clear answer yes or no, but he said, "As a priority we do not lead with incentives, we lead with the reason you want to be in Connecticut."

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