Byron Reed. Courtesy photo.

More than one year after its launch, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion announced Byron Reed as its first president and CEO.

“I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead the organization around this critical work,” Reed said in the announcement.

A former CIT/One West Bank senior vice president and head of community and local government relations, Reed has a long history of community involvement with specific expertise in economic inclusion. During his tenure at the bank, Reed oversaw a multi-million dollar philanthropic grant budget, partnering with elected officials, civic and community leaders, religious organizations and nonprofits by hosting community forums to educate people about financial services.

Reed will assume the role in July.

“[Reed has] had a very successful career doing community development work in the private sector, and I think it makes him uniquely qualified to bridge the gap here in Long Beach to build economic opportunities for all,” center Board President Bob Cabeza said in a statement.

The Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the ‘Everyone In’ Implementation Plan in June 2019, which included a recommendation to support the establishment of a community development corporation to facilitate economic development at the neighborhood level. To that end, Wells Fargo provided a seed grant that was matched by the city and in March 2020, the Center for Economic Inclusion launched.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the center into overdrive from the start and in its first year it directed more than $750,000 in resources for small business support, food security, digital inclusion and housing security. The organizations created a business navigator program that has supported more than 150 small businesses over the last 12 months, created the Long Beach Food Support Network, which has put food on the table in 1,500 households per week for the last 13 months and provided free or low-cost internet service to more than 200 students, among other initiatives and programs.

Overall, the center has partnered with more than 25 community organizations to direct resources and support to businesses, organizations and individuals in the underserved communities of North, Central and West Long Beach.

“Now more than ever,” Reed said, “economic inclusion is critical in order to create an equitable environment for positive growth and impact throughout the city of Long Beach.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.