Podcast Episode 196: Economic & Business Future of Connecticut with David Lehman

Today’s Wisdom:

States all across the country are re-thinking the future of their economy after the many shifts brought on by COVID-19. Today we get the opportunity to speak with David Lehman with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to find out what his goals are as commissioner and find out why he’s optimistic about the future of our state.

Want to save time? Click the timestamps below to jump ahead to specific spots in the episode.


What You’ll Learn:

We’re at an interesting time in this country as cities and states are re-evaluating their business and economic models following the many changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other areas of the country, people in Connecticut are understandably concerned about the future of the economy. Will businesses find the area attractive enough to stay or move in? Is the housing market competitive with other regions? Why should we be excited about the future?

To get answers, we reached out to David Lehman, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. He was gracious enough to give us some of his time and share his vision of the future for the state. In his role, he works with some of the most important sectors of the economy.

Part of the unique challenge right now is trying to determine the rules around reopening and guidelines. It’s a delicate balance and one that seemingly everyone has a different opinion on, but the goal is keeping people safe while allowing the economy to stay open. But the bigger picture focus is on job growth throughout our communities along with developing cities across Connecticut. To do that, priority is put on culture, arts, and tourism.

Throughout our conversation, and it’s one that we think every citizen will be interested in listening to, we cover a wide range of topics that are important to Joel and the clients we work with on a daily basis.

One key discussion is on businesses. When you look ahead at the future of businesses in Connecticut, it’s important to get more companies to call this state home. A handful of companies have moved out of the region and that’s a trend that everyone wants to be temporary. So how do you make sure the area is open for business investment? Lehman identifies what he feels are the keys to attracting employers: taxes, technology infrastructure, education, and workforce.

Lehman also sees the biggest growth coming from small to mid-size businesses and that’s where he feels the focus needs to be. He also believes three industries specifically can really thrive here. First, financial services and the corresponding tech offshoot will continue to be a big sector for growth. Manufacturing is another industry that he feels optimistic about growth. The final area is life sciences and biotechnology.

Another great part of the interview is learning more about Brownfields development. The state has a program that’s funded through borrowing, which goes into cities that have contaminated sites from old businesses and helps clean those properties up, and gets them ready for redevelopment. This is such an important program for the next generation in Connecticut in terms of growth and repurposing these old facilities.

Along with these things, we will talk about financing businesses, office space, housing opportunities, and education. These are all pivotal pieces of building a strong economy and Lehman shares quite a bit during the show. You’ll also find out why he still remains optimistic about where Connecticut is headed and what’s to come in future years.

Let’s get started with the show. You can listen to it by using the audio player above and click on the timestamps to skip to a specific topic of conversation.

[0:49] – What his department focuses on

[2:37] – The current business environment in Connecticut

[4:50] – Attracting good students to CT

[7:16] – What businesses would you like to attract?

[11:10] – More positive news than being promoted

[12:29] – Housing opportunities

[14:37] – Attracting insurance companies

[16:24] – Brownfield development

[19:58] – Trade schools

[20:50] – Financing a business

[21:44] – Lack of new office space

[24:37] – Reasons to be optimistic as a citizen of CT

Thanks for listening to this episode. We’ll be back again next week for another show.


Final Thoughts:

“Certainty and stability goes a long way, and if we can provide that, I think we’re going to see a lot more migration and a lot more business investment in the state.”

– David Lehman, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development

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