Byron Reed Brings Next Level Community Development
By Dianne Anderson
Access to money – where to get it, how to make it, and how to keep it – is at the root of most community development concerns.
When it comes to meeting local needs, a lot is on the table at the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion, including help with housing, entrepreneurship, small business support, supplier diversity and youth development.
Even for Byron Reed, who has decades of background in banking, financial education is not always an easy topic for the community.
But with the right financial training, he knows they can restart their futures.
“Financial education, from the perspective that as the keeper of those dollars, you have to grow those dollars. Most folks that need financial education have to make a decision of whether or not they pay their grocery bill or pay their light bill,” said Reed, the first president and CEO of 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, that is offered in many areas of the United States. For his program, he envisions the community would receive money that they can grow with real dollars available to them to invest, buy a home, or start a business when they complete their training
With over three decades in banking, he brings fresh ideas in community development. Reed is the former senior vice president and head of Community & Local Government Relations at CIT/OneWest Bank. He also served as senior vice president and region director, Community Relations, Greater Los Angeles/Orange County Region at Wells Fargo and was the regional vice president for Wells Fargo’s Community Development group in Texas from 1995 to 2001.
Although he is fairly new to the Long Beach area, he is not new to community service.
Reed knows his way around the corporate circuit, but he emphasizes that service within the 100 Black Men program has been his life-changing work.
He founded the 100 Black Men, Dallas Fort Worth Chapter, and is a member of both the Los Angeles 100, and a member of the Chicago Chapter. He works closely with the Long Beach “100,” and like-minded brotherhood, assisting with financial education for their students.
“At the 100, we have the same spirit, and to empower folks, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Among his many volunteer and leadership posts, Reed has also served on the Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Los Angeles Urban League, Valley Economic Development Center, CFRC, the Pat Brown Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, and Southeast Symphony Orchestra Advisory Board.
From a personal standpoint, Reed said the pandemic last year made him slow down and rethink how much more he can bring to the community within the nonprofit sector. In many ways, the kind of outreach and programming he is doing now at LBCEI feels like home.
“This is very purpose-driven, really helping individuals to be economically included and financially empowered to lead their lives. I came from the financial side to correlate to this space to bring some of those resources to the community through this center,” he said.
LBCEI started under the direction of Councilman Rex Richardson, serving underrepresented families, small businesses and low-income communities of North, Central and West Long Beach in areas of food security, small business support, economic resiliency, technology, workforce and youth development.
Reed said he is committed to making the center a tangible space for growth and, as a convener, he wants the community to see the center as the place for trusted advice to move families and small businesses forward.
That kind of community success is also the mantra of the several fraternities where he holds membership, 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 Boule’.
For the future, another barrier he wants to tackle is preparing small businesses not only to grow their business, but gain more opportunities to effectively compete with RFP’s.
“Supplier diversity can be pairing small business with another small business, together they can land the RFP and have the capacity to deliver,” he said. “Sometimes we only get one opportunity and we’ve got to show up the right way.”
For more information, see https://www.lbcei.org/inthistogether/