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February 20, 2023 / 2023 Power 50

2023 Power 50: 14. Alexandra Daum

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Alexandra Daum is the new commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, with a focus on housing, smart growth, business support and tourism.

Alexandra Daum, as the new commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, has her sights set on urban development, business support, housing and tourism.

The 35-year-old married mother of two living in New Haven is a Harvard Business School graduate who served as deputy commissioner under David Lehman, replacing him earlier this year.
Her tenure got off to a bumpy start. In January, Campbell Soup Co. announced it was relocating the Norwalk headquarters of its Pepperidge Farm subsidiary to New Jersey; LEGO announced it was moving its U.S. headquarters from Enfield to Boston, in search of a more vibrant city and talent pool; and Stratford helicopter maker Sikorsky’s parent company announced 800 layoffs, although it wasn’t clear how many would occur in Connecticut. 

Daum said one of her main focus areas is revitalizing town centers and urban areas, which would make Connecticut more attractive and competitive.
One initiative includes the $100-million Communities Challenge grant program, which invests in transit-oriented development and other housing projects.

The first two rounds of funding gave more than $80 million to 20 cities and towns, leveraging about $217 million in private investment, she said.

The program will also help with the state’s lack of affordable housing, which is seen as a significant factor contributing to the workforce shortage.

Strategic brownfield remediation funding will help cleanup areas where housing or mixed-use development is most needed, she said.

Daum said she will also continue to prioritize performance-based incentives for larger businesses instead of the up-front, job-creation incentives that were handed out by previous administrations. 

Small businesses and minority- and veteran-owned companies are also getting a boost from the $150-million Small Business Boost fund.

Daum said she also wants to promote all of Connecticut through new tourism efforts, from the shoreline and rural areas to attractions in the bigger cities.

A statewide rebranding campaign is on the horizon, Daum said.

Find out who else is in the 2023 Power 50.

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