2020-2021 in review

A summary of LBCEI's first year

Understanding Economic Inclusion

First Year: overview

LBCEI launched as part of the City of Long Beach’s EveryoneIn Initiative in March 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic grew in severity and in economic impact, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion reacted to fast-growing, ever-changing need in our community. In early 2020, the organization was founded with a seed grant from Wells Fargo that was matched by the City of Long Beach with support from Vice Mayor Rex Richardson’s office.

LBCEI is committed to directing money and resources to underserved communities disproportionately affected by COVID, leveraging community networks to bring resources to those who can do the most good with it in key areas:

A video about LBCEI

special thanks to antonio ruiz and palacio magazine for production of this video!

Founding Board

Bob Cabeza, Board President

Sharon Diggs-Jackson, Secretary

Juan Benitez

Vivian Shimoyama

Wayne Chaney

small business support

Building and supporting small business is one of the best ways to grow our local market in a way that includes those in the Long Beach community. The COVID-19 pandemic brought on tough times for all businesses, but local small businesses may not have had the resources to bounce back or wait out the storm. LBCEI mobilized quickly to connect small businesses to resources, and found ways that small businesses could stay afloat by helping the most vulnerable in our community.

Project business lift

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Small business resiliency ceo forum

LBCEI began the Small Business Resiliency CEO Forum to help local business owners recover from pandemic losses and pivot to plan for the future. The CEO Forum helped seven local business owners refine their vision and business goals, understand business finance and planning, leadership, management of operations and optimizing market opportunities. Forum classes were held via Zoom over three months in early 2021; they covered topics from mission statements to optimizing market opportunity. After graduating from the program, business owners were paired with local business experts for six months of free mentorship. LBCEI Small Business Resiliency CEO Forum also provides online webinars and access to growing a business information ongoing through the website.

CEO Forum participants and facilitators celebrate the completion of the program via Zoom

“These businesses are so positive and have overcome so many challenges. I am inspired by the courage of business owners and what they have done to keep their businesses open, staff and customers safe, and when possible team members employed."

Go Digital

LBCEI partnered with Long Beach Economic Partnership, Omniworks, UCC, SBDC and CSULB to provide digital training to 50+ local businesses.

Great Plates

The start of the pandemic brought a lot of fear and instability,  particularly to those who were most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and to businesses that were forced to close their doors.

LBCEI and its partners united to address some of that fear in our community by hiring local restaurants like La Guanaquita to send pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors in our community. Through the first months of the pandemic, Great Plates Delivered and its restaurant partners helped bring nutritious hot meals to hundreds.

The Spanish language video below features La Guanaquita staff and Great Plates partners.

Kiva loans

LBCEI is a certified Kiva Trustee, which means endorsing and assisting local businesses who apply for Kiva loans. As a trustee, LBCEI endorsed Alien Artifacts, a vintage shop on Retro Row, and Tiki and Lei Hawaiian, an immigrant-owned Long Beach restaurant.

Both loans were fully funded in just a few days, thanks to partner LA-LISC and to lenders, resulting in over $12,000 of capital for the businesses.

Digital inclusion & Youth/ Workforce Development

Engaging and empowering our community youth and workforce is critical to building an inclusive economy. Youth bring energy and new ideas to the conversation, and they’re the future. And the working class deserves to be brought in and served by the economy they hold up.

YMCA Laptop Distribution

Internet access and connection became more important than ever in 2020. LBCEI partnered with Human I-T and the YMCA of Greater Long Beach to give laptops to local students.

LBCC Laptop Distribution

Economic resiliency & connectedness

COVID-19 brought with it increased food insecurity across Long Beach, and LBCEI mobilized to help community organizations band together and help more people, more efficiently.


The Long Beach Food Support Network is a collection of 9 food pantry partners and 3 neighborhood groups in Long Beach that have been working to meet the growing food insecurity needs of underserved communities in our city. As the need for free food grew throughout the COVID pandemic, this network has collectively served more than 1,500 households every week since April 2020.

The Food Hub, created in partnership with our Food Network and with the help of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, serves as a centralized location for the distribution of food and other supplies from bulk suppliers to neighborhood pantries. Every other week, the Hub processes 13,000 lbs. of dry goods. On alternating weeks, 15-17,000 lbs. of produce come through the Hub. All this food gets distributed to neighborhood pantries and community organizations in North, West, and Central Long Beach.

LBCEI Intern Natalie Leahy at the Food Hub

"We are so grateful to have received basic hygiene products and paper goods from LBCEI to give to our pantry guests and we saw that having these products lifted their self-esteem."

The Food Support Network and Food Hub have empowered local pantries to:

A portion of the produce at the Food Hub, waiting to be distributed to local pantries

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Food Partners

  • LA Regional Food Bank
  • Food Finders
  • Vice Mayor Rex Richardson
  • Long Beach Community Table
  • Organic Harvest Gardens
  • Christian Outreach in Action
  • AOC7
  • LDS Long Beach
  • Pools of Hope
  • Church One Ministries
  • Light and Life Christian Fellowship
  • North Long each Prayer Center
  • Grant A.M.E. Church
  • Awaken Ministries/New Generations
  • Fountain of Life Covenant Church

Senior food delivery

Early in the pandemic, two problems arose: restaurants were forced to stop operations suddenly, and many seniors and high-risk residents were stuck at home without access to healthy, affordable food.

Organic Harvest Gardens, which had been supplying local produce to restaurants, was left with a surplus. LBCEI teamed up with Organic Harvest Gardens and other local food security partners to deliver boxes of fresh produce, free of charge, to residents’ doorsteps.

Special thanks to Organic Harvest Gardens and Palacio Magazine for their help on the video below:

Housing & Homeownership

Housing Call Center

Through partnership with Affordable Housing Clearinghouse, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, and Bridge Development Partners, LBCEI offered a calling center with HUD-certified housing counselors. Both English- and Spanish-speakers were encouraged to call with questions on help with financial planning, managing credit, foreclosure prevention, and first-time homeownership.

A social media post from July 2020 advertising the call center. Hover for Spanish

our first year in summary

The world changed a lot, again and again, from March 2020 into 2021. The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion is proud to have been able to jump in and help our community weather the storm and start a strong recovery. 

LBCEI’s work would not be possible without our partners, who collaborate with us to work toward a more inclusive Long Beach Economy:


Community Partnerships
Pounds of food distributed
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Local businesses supported

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Elite Skills Development | Sharon Diggs-Jackson 

Office of Councilmember Rex Richardson | Alanah Grant