Economic Development Director Loren Nadres, hired by Mayor Caroline Simmons for her global approach to attracting business to Stamford, has resigned after 17 months on the job.
Nadres tendered her resignation Saturday, according to an email, dated May 20, from Nadres’ city account.
“It has truly been a joy and honor working with you,” Nadres wrote to her colleagues. “I appreciate the mayor and team for the opportunity to serve the people of Stamford. As some of you know, I will be moving on from my current role to explore new opportunities. I am excited to share details with you soon.”
The email directs “any economic development related matters” to Simmons’ chief of staff, Bridget Fox, or to Leah Kagan, the mayor’s special assistant for economic development.
Nadres is the third of Simmons’ five cabinet members to resign since March.
That month, Director of Legal Affairs Doug Dalena left the administration for a general counsel position in the Connecticut Office of the State Treasurer. Last month, Director of Administration Sandy Dennies announced that she will retire. Dennies’ last day is May 31.
A fourth cabinet member, Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski, resigned last June.
Fox issued a statement Monday morning saying that Nadres
“oversaw key economic development initiatives including the launch of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, the city’s Global Stamford Initiative, and the creation of a municipal COVID-19 relief grant program to provide financial assistance for eligible small businesses impacted by the pandemic.”
The statement included remarks from Simmons, who said Nadres “has been a valuable leader and advisor on our economic development strategy to recruit and retain businesses in the City of Stamford, which has resulted in new jobs and critical revenue for our community.”
Simmons cited Nadres’ “commitment to strengthening relationships” between city hall and the business community, “from ongoing dialogue with our small businesses and major corporations and to the development of new initiatives that will sustain Stamford as an economic engine for this state.”
The statement also quotes Nadres, who said her office has “been able to think outside the box and to generate opportunities to make our community more friendly and responsive to business as well as take on the challenge of recruiting new investments from around the region, country, and the world.”
Fox did not say when Nadres will leave the position, but sources told CT Examiner that the resignation was immediate.
Simmons hired Nadres soon after Simmons became mayor 17 months ago. Simmons said at the time that Nadres would focus on a global approach to stimulating economic growth in Stamford.
During a gathering of the Foreign Trade Commissioners Association in New York City in September, Simmons and Nadres announced the launch of the Global Stamford Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to promote Stamford as a home for international businesses looking to move or expand their offices, Simmons said in a press release issued at the time.
In the release, Simmons said her administration wants “to make Stamford a global destination for smart and innovative economic development.”
In the same press release, Nadres said the launch of the initiative “shows the high demand and interest from the international business community in exploring Stamford as their next home to successfully start and grow their companies.”
Before taking the job in Stamford, Nadres was an assistant vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Before that, she was director of economic development in the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs. She also worked at World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the United Nations.
According to Nadres’ LinkedIn page, her roles in Stamford included cabinet member and advisor to the mayor. Simmons hired Nadres last year at an annual salary of $180,843, nearly $22,000 more than the previous economic development director.
Nadres faced a few obstacles in her tenure.
In April the Board of Finance voted to cut a new position Simmons proposed for Nadres’ office. The job, project manager, would have paid $122,000 a year.
About two months earlier, the Board of Finance and Board of Representatives each rejected a plan by the Office of Economic Development for distributing $1.5 million in federal relief funds to small businesses that struggled during the pandemic. The office wanted to use $200,000 of the federal money to hire the Women’s Business Development Council, an agency where Simmons once worked, to administer the grants.
The finance board said that was too big a chunk of the money to spend on administering the grants, and city representatives agreed. Nadres and her staff then began to distribute the grants themselves.
During a meeting with city representatives, Nadres said her staff would have to set aside other tasks to redirect their efforts to the grant distributions. Her staff was supposed to decide which small businesses get the grants by the end of this month.
City Rep. Nina Sherwood said she has questioned the city’s return on its investment in the economic development office ever since she was elected to the Board of Representatives six years ago.
“Since I’ve been in office, that position has not produced tangible results for my constituents,” Sherwood said. “I don’t think Loren Nadres’ resignation will have any effect on the regular citizen of Stamford.”
City Rep. Denis Patterson, who worked as a senior executive in the Office of Economic Development under former Mayor Dan Malloy, disagreed.
“I think the position is very important,” Patterson said. “It is the mayor’s interface with the business community. The economic development director has to have the mayor’s confidence and trust and articulate the mayor’s vision. That person has to sell the city. If we want to keep good relations with the finance industry in New York, with the international commerce community, we need someone to do the networking.”