NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Gov. Ned Lamont announced his pick for the new commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) on Tuesday.
Lamont nominated Daniel O’Keefe, who is the state’s first chief innovation officer.
If the nomination is approved by the state legislature in February, O’Keefe will succeed Commissioner Alexandra Daum, who many have praised over the years.
“She leads humbly. She leads with intelligence,“ O’Keefe said.
Although O’Keefe has only worked for the state since July, Lamont said O’Keefe was a successful technology investor for 25 years and is now hitting the ground running.
“What I would like to see is our cities continue to kind of reinvent themselves as work, live and play destinations,” O’Keefe said.
Residents of New London said they also want to see this with the city’s Live, Work, Invest campaign.
“I think for the first time in a long time, I’m done with hope. I’m really quite energized,” said Antonio Suarez, who opened his Northern Lights Gems jewelry store on State Street 12 years ago. “There’s a lot of palpable things going on right here in town.”
Suarez said he is happy to see all the development happening around him. These developments include the expansion of Electric Boat, the arrival of the offshore wind industry and the highly anticipated National Coast Guard Museum.
“People are building,” Suarez said. “A lot of space and they’re filling them up before they’re even done so I’m excited.”
Dash Davidson, who is a principal at High Tide Capital, now owns nine buildings in the city. His goal is to create places where people can live, work or both.
“Any buildings we can buy in New London we will,” Davidson said. “That’s our commitment to the city.”
Davidson said he also hopes to see the same commitment from the DECD. The Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant as well as the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit helped Davidson make what was old, new again, Davidson said.
“Really, that’s the reason we’re able to do these historic renovation projects,” Davidson said.