By Diane Anderson
Access to money – where to get it, how to earn it, and how to keep it – is at the root of most community development problems.
When it comes to meeting local needs, a lot is on the table at the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion, including housing assistance, entrepreneurship, small business support, supplier diversity and youth development.
Even for Byron Reed, who has decades of banking experience, financial education is not always an easy topic for the community.
But with the right financial education, he knows they can restart their future.
âFinancial education, from the point of view that as a custodian of those dollars, you have to grow those dollars. Most people who need financial education have to decide whether or not to pay their grocery bill or their light bill, âsaid Reed, the first president and CEO of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion.
That’s why he hopes to revive a version of a successful anti-poverty program, similar to the Individual Development Account, which is offered in many parts of the United States. For his program, he envisions that the community would receive money that they can grow with real money available to them to invest, buy a house or start a business once their training is completed.
With over three decades in the banking industry, he brings new ideas to community development. Reed is the former Senior Vice President and Head of Community and Local Government Relations at CIT / OneWest Bank. He was also Senior Vice President and Regional Director of Community Relations, Greater Los Angeles / Orange County Area in Wells Fargo and Regional Vice President of the Wells Fargo Texas Community Development Group from 1995 to 2001.
While he’s fairly new to the Long Beach area, he’s not new to community service.
Reed is familiar with the corporate circuit, but he points out that serving on the 100 Black Men program has been his life-changing job.
He founded the 100 Black Men, Dallas Fort Worth Chapter, and is a member of both the Los Angeles 100 and the Chicago Chapter. He works closely with the Long Beach “100” and a like-minded brotherhood, helping with the financial education of their students.
âAt 100 we have the same spirit, and empowering people is what it is about,â he said.
Among his many volunteer and leadership positions, Reed has also served at Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Los Angeles Urban League, Valley Economic Development Center, CFRC, Pat Brown Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. Angeles, at the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board Youth Council and Southeast Symphony Orchestra Advisory Board.
From a personal perspective, Reed said last year’s pandemic made him slow down and rethink everything he could do more for the community within the nonprofit sector. In many ways, the kind of outreach and programming he now does at LBCEI feels right at home.
âIt’s very goal-oriented, really helping individuals to be economically included and financially empowered to lead their lives. I came from the financial side to correlate with this space to bring some of these resources to the community through this center, âhe said.
LBCEI began under the leadership of City Councilor Rex Richardson, serving underrepresented families, small businesses and low income communities in North, Central and West Long Beach in the areas of food security, support for small businesses, economic resilience, technology, workforce and youth development.
Reed said he is determined to make the center a space for tangible growth and, as an organizer, he wants the community to see the center as a place of trusted advice to move families and small businesses forward.
This kind of community success is also the mantra of several fraternities of which he is a member, including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Fraternity, Southern University and A&M College Chapter and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Delta Xi Member Ball’.
Going forward, another hurdle he wants to tackle is preparing small businesses not only to grow their business, but to gain more opportunities to compete effectively with tenders.
âSupplier diversity can be about pairing one small business with another small business, together they can land the tender and have the ability to deliver,â he said. “Sometimes we only have one opportunity and we have to present ourselves in the right way.”
For more information see https://www.lbcei.org/inthistogether/