Long Beach Economic Inclusion Center, newly formed, adapts quickly to help people overcome coronavirus

LONG BEACH

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion faced a test with life-or-death consequences almost as soon as it formed — and has so far, it seems, succeeded.

The center, which grew out of the Everyone In Economic Inclusion Implementation Plan that the City Council approved last year, incorporated in March; its ultimate goal is to launch programs that would create equity in Long Beach, a city that has long seen disparities in various quality-of-life indicators — income, health, technology access —  between the white population and people of color, especially the Black community.

The organization’s initial plan was to have a ramp-up period to consider which programs would have the most impact before putting them in place. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

So the center adapted. It nixed the ramp-up, decided to focus its efforts on reducing food insecurity, improving technology and helping small businesses — hit hard when the stay-at-home orders forced all non-essential businesses to close in an effort to stem the spread of the virus — in low-income communities of color. The center’s #InThisTogether campaign began with a $250,000 budget and has so far helped increase supplies at nine food pantries, provided healthy meals to 300 home-bound seniors, donated laptops to low-income students and helped small businesses apply for government assistance.

“In one go, we had to get up to warp speed,” said Bob Cabeza, chair of the LBCEI board. “We made the decision to really invest in the low income community of color, where the need was immediate.”

Once the pandemic changed the center’s plans, Cabeza, his board and interim Executive Director Jeff Williams worked on securing money to help fund programs they could get off the ground quickly. Money came in from Wells Fargo Bank, BRIDGE Development Partners and the office of Ninth District Councilmember Rex Richardson, who led the creation of the Everyone In plan, which was largely designed to help underrepresented families in north, central and west Long Beach.

Once the #InThisTogether campaign started, United Way, LISC-LA and the Long Beach Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund offered more financial support.

Then, the real work began.

“We partnered with community nonprofits to work on the food security issue,” Cabeza said. “We helped a lot of small business owners fill out grant forms and the like. And we focused on seniors who were isolated and in need of food.”

The LBCEI also worked with the nonprofit Food Finders and other sources to increase the amount of food available at various food pantries and partnered with Organic Harvest Gardens to deliver produce and staples to more than 300 seniors.

Now, the center has begun working to make those programs sustainable over the long term, Williams, the center’s executive director, said in an email.

Cabeza became passionate when he talked about efforts to help small businesses — especially those owned by Blacks and other minorities.

“It’s in our name — economic inclusion for all,” he said. “We focus on the small mom-and-pop stores. This will take you to the underbelly of Long Beach, the poverty that’s the reality for many.

“The city has to change,” Cabeza added, “to move resources to address these issues.”

The center has also helped small-business owners apply for government grants, and created a Small Business Navigators program to help owners come up with business plans, and perform marketing. A loan fund has also been created to offer micro-loans to those needing help during the coronavirus pandemic.

LBCEI’s third goal, narrowing the technology gap, has so far included donating 200 laptops to families and students who couldn’t otherwise afford them. The agency is also advocating for lower-cost internet access.

“We wanted to help those college kids living in cars,” Cabeza said. “We work with those who are going to college despite poverty. Education is their way out, and we want to help them.”

Source: https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/07/01/long-beach-economic-inclusion-center-newly-formed-adapts-quickly-to-help-people-overcome-coronavirus/

Carl Kemp

Environmental Health Public Affairs Manager,
LA County Department of Public Health

Carl Kemp is currently the Environmental Health Public Affairs Manager with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and has more than 20 years of experience in communications and public affairs. Prior to joining Public Health, Carl managed his own government affairs and public relations practice with a wide range of clients from international shipping to major non-profits. He also created the Office of Government Affairs and Communication in the City of Long Beach, and went on to create the Office of Government Affairs and Community Relations at the Port of Long Beach.

Kemp has a long history of community involvement in the Long Beach area, including earning a B.A. and MPA from California State University, Long Beach, where he served two terms as student body present. He also has earned a certificate in Executive Leadership from the Harvard University School of Government. He has developed messaging around many major initiatives from local to federal government, including the Green Port Policy at the Port of Long Beach. Over the years, Carl has served on many boards and has been blessed to be involved in numerous initiatives to improve the community and contribute to the people within it.

Carl’s proudest accomplishment is being a father.

VIVIAN SHIMOYAMA

President
Growth Small Business, LLC

Vivian Shimoyama has directed initiatives for public, non-profit, and private sector organizations setting strategic vision, and managing organization growth which resulted in economic impact. She is a recognized expert on small businesses and has advocated for thousands of small business owners through local, state, national and international initiatives. Dedicated to growing small businesses she heads two ventures — Growth Small Business, LLC and is the Chief Operating Officer of Scale Smarter Partners, these firms accelerate business growth through guided tools that allow companies to thrive. She advises and advocates for small businesses in a range of industries with outcomes that lead to opening doors of opportunity for entrepreneurs, strategic positioning, and focus on building operations infrastructure necessary to support growth. 

Most recently, Ms. Shimoyama was the Regional Executive Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) Initiative for Southern California. She built a regional team and worked with national organizations to create jobs and economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business and management education program, access to capital, and business advisory support services.

She is the Chair Emeritus of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Board, National Association of Women Business Owners, and NAWBO Education Foundation, and advisor to the California Small Business Education Foundation, and University of Southern California Small Business Supplier Diversity Office. 

As a national and international leader, she has served as an appointee to the National Women’s Business Council, an independent federal government advisory council that advises the President and U.S. Congress on issues important to women owned businesses. Ms. Shimoyama has served as an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business; was a member of the U.S. delegation and facilitator for the landmark 10 Downing Street Economic Summit headed by the U.K. government; U.S. delegate to the Asia-Pacific (APEC) Women and the Economy Summit, bringing together private and public sector leaders for women’s economic empowerment.  

Ms. Shimoyama has been honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and received the National Women In Business Advocate Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In 2020, she was selected by the New York Museum of Arts and Design as one of 45 artists that have made significant developments in art jewelry since the mid- century: 45 Stories in Jewelry: 1946 to Now features pieces and jewelry artists in the past eighty years that have broadened the scope and reach of art as a wearable medium. Shimoyama Studio is located in downtown Long Beach where her fused glass artwork is displayed along with her creation The Glass Ceiling Pin that has received national recognition for breaking invisible barriers … glass ceilings.

REV. WAYNE CHANEY

Pastor- Antioch Church, LB

Wayne Chaney personifies the contemporary spiritual leader. He uniquely bridges people from different generations, cultures, and demographics through his relevant teaching and architecture of spirited worship atmospheres. His rich family heritage of clergyman fuels his genuine love for people. He stewards a five-decade legacy left by his grandfather, Joe Chaney, Jr. as he pastors Antioch Church of Long Beach. Wayne’s determination to shift culture is permeated throughout his ministry expression, oratory and brand tentacles.

Wayne has never been satisfied with status quo so whether it is a national television show, radio show, church congregation, regional festival, or by feeding thousands of people every month, he is destined to make a difference. Chaney is the visionary of the Long Beach Gospel Fest, the city’s premier gospel event held on the beautiful shores of downtown Long Beach. This yearly gathering brings politicians, business owners, gospel singers, and over 25,000 people together for inspiration, worship and music. “Beyond the gospel music, we are witnessing the addition of something new and wonderful to Long Beach,” he said to the Los Angeles Times.

He is strongly engaged civically as the former President of the California National African American Network, SBC, Board Member of the National African American Network, and on the Executive Board of the California Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor Chaney serves on the Executive Board of Global Tribe International, whose mission is to rescue those in physical and spiritual poverty, reach communities with the gospel and recruit and empower young leaders. He is also the president emeritus of the Long Beach Ministers Alliance.

Pastor Chaney has added published author to his expanding repertoire as his novel Your Miraculous Potential: Maximizing God’s Creativity, Power and Direction is now available at retailers everywhere.

DR. JUAN BENITEZ

Director, CSULB Center For Civic Engagement

Dr. Juan M. Benitez is a father, educator, and community leader dedicated to Long Beach. He serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and as an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

With over 20 years of experience in higher education, Juan heads university-wide community engagement projects, programs, activities, and initiatives. He has helped raise close to $3 million in funding for projects in the region, working with over 100 nonprofit organizations and community groups as well as thousands of students and community members.

Through his work with the CCE, Juan helped to implement The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative in Long Beach, a 10-year effort to improve neighborhood conditions that contribute to good health. Juan also worked with AmeriCorps and community groups to create a collaborative vision to address youth development, parent engagement, equity and opportunity gaps, and school discipline issues in Long Beach schools.

Juan is also the proud son of hard-working immigrants from Mexico who came to the United States to pursue a better life for their family and achieve the American Dream.

Juan was elected to the Long Beach Unified School District Board, Third District, in June 2018.

DARICK J. SIMPSON

Executive Director - Miller Foundation​

Darick J. Simpson, currently serves as the president and CEO of the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation — one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the city. He formerly served as the executive director of Long Beach Community Action Partnership.

Simpson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Alabama and a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, led LBCAP for the last 13 years. The nonprofit assists youth and families to reach self-sustainability.

Under Simpson’s direction, LBCAP became Long Beach’s public access television broadcast outlet and started a training program for youth in the performing arts and broadcast journalism. He grew LBCAP from a staff of 24 with a $1.3 million budget to an agency with a $10 million budget and 80 staff members.

A resident of Long Beach, Darick is a recognized leader in the community. Additionally, Mr. Simpson has served on various national, state, and regional boards including the PBS SoCal Advisory Board and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Commission.

Sharon Diggs-Jackson

Program Director, Elite Skills Development​

Sharon Jackson’s professional career includes 12 years with IBM where she served as an auditor and administrative branch manager.  Her 20-year career with the City of Long Beach included serving as an Analyst in the Long Beach Police Department’s Narcotics and Crime Analysis Divisions and Coordinator of the Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Program. For the final 10 years of her career she was the city’s Airport Public Affairs Officer.

Following her retirement in 2009, Sharon, and her husband David, began a journey to discover and connect with their family roots that landed them in Selma, AL, where they purchased and renovated a historic home in Downtown Selma.  The home has been used as a center for racial healing and social action and a learning center for students studying the Civil War, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Movement.

A student of history, Sharon is an trained genealogist and author of, Images of America:SELMA. Published in November 2014, the book has been very well received and is now in its second printing. 

Currently, Sharon serves as the Program Officer for Elite Skills Development, a non-profit organization that provides services to create pathways to self-sustainability for at-risk and under-resourced youth and young adults.

Sharon is a member of the Long Beach City College Citizen Oversight Committee, a board member of the Long Beach African American Cultural Center, the Executive Committee of the Selma Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc-Long Beach Alumnae Chapter and The Links, Inc.

CDC WORKING GROUP

Antioch Church | Carl Kemp

Antioch LB | Wayne Chaney, Jr.

City of Long Beach, Economic Development | John Keisler

City of Long Beach, Economic Development | Rebecca Kauma

City of Long Beach, Health Dept. | Katie Balderas 

City of Long Beach, Health Dept. | Kelly Colopy

Council District 9 | Rex Richardson

Council District 9, City of Long Beach | Alanah Grant

CSULB | Juan Benitez

CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Wade Martin

Elite Skills Development | Sharon Diggs-Jackson

Growth Small Business, LLC | Vivian Shimoyama

Habitat for Humanity | Dinesa Thomas-Whitman

LA County | Herlinda Chico

LA LISC | Tunua Thrash-NtukLandspire Group | Treana Allen

LB Economic Development Commission | Jessica Schumer

LB Forward | Petit Christine

LB Opera | Derrell Acon

LBCAP | Darick Simpson

LBCAP | Marisa Semense

LBUSD | Kim Johnson

LINC Housing | Suny Lay Chang

Our Essence Beauty Supply | Deidre Norville

Pacific6 | Brandon Dowling

PGWIN | Nick Schultz

PGWIN Board | Weston LaBar

POLB | Bonnie Lowenthal

Pride Real Estate Professional Association | Jacqueline Case

PV Jobs | Erik Miller

Ronnie’s House | Shirin Senegal

SHS Connections | Shawna Stevens

SoCal Grantmakers | Seyron Foo

United Cambodian Community, Midtown BID | Susana Sngiem,

Uptown BID | Doris Felix

Uptown BID | Joni Ricks-Odie

Uptown BID | Tom Carpenter

Urban Agriculture Council | Rod Dodd

USC Small Business Diversity Office | Rhonda Thornton

Villages at Cabrillo | Rene Castro

Wells Fargo | Linda Nguyen

Facilitators: 

Elite Skills Development | Sharon Diggs-Jackson 

Office of Councilmember Rex Richardson | Alanah Grant