LAEDC President and CEO Bill Allen to retire in January
Longest serving CEO transformed the organization during 17-year tenure
In 2009, to help the region recover from the Great Recession, Allen personally led more than 1,000 stakeholders from business, labor, government, and the community through 26 public meetings to create LA County’s first-ever community-built strategic plan for economic development, which led to significant changes in the County’s own General Plan as well as those of many of the cities in the region. The development of that plan and its update in 2015 served as a model for California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) for which LAEDC is now the Regional Convener for hundreds of stakeholders committed to developing a new plan for the region’s transition to a carbon neutral economy.
Under Allen’s leadership, LAEDC became the most trusted thought leader and convener on economic development in the region and for 17 years has been the home of the Southern California Leadership Council, cochaired on a rotating basis by former California Governors Gray Davis and Pete Wilson and CEOs from many of the largest employers working to advance prosperity across Southern California.
LAEDC is also home to the Center for a Competitive Workforce which Allen established with 19 of the region’s community colleges to ensure stronger and more inclusive talent development pipelines to the region’s key industry sectors.
During the first weeks of the pandemic, Allen created a specialized program of assistance for women-and BIPOC-owned small businesses known as the Community Connectory that earned widespread philanthropic support, including a grant from Wells Fargo, which enabled LAEDC to then facilitate a coalition known as Together for LA (www.togetherforla.com) in which LAEDC and strategic partners including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, LISC LA and the City and County of Los Angeles provided extensive recovery support to thousands of small businesses in the region.
In 2021 Allen created the Los Angeles Digital Equity Action League (www.LADEAL.org) with LAEDC and UNITE-LA as co-conveners of hundreds of public and private partners collaborating on strategies and tactics to eliminate the digital divide across Los Angeles County. LA DEAL is now the official Regional Broadband Consortium for LA County as designated by the California Public Utilities Commission.
LAEDC also recently coordinated a diverse array of partners to submit LA County’s successful application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a Phase One Planning Grant to grow the region’s blue and green economies under the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge and positioned the region as a strong finalist for a potential $60+ million EDA grant to implement those plans.
During Allen’s tenure, LAEDC’s award-winning Business Assistance Team reached the milestone of attracting or retaining more than 250,000 jobs for area residents through direct services to small businesses. Along the way, Allen redirected the mission of World Trade Center Los Angeles, an LAEDC affiliate, from a primary focus on trade facilitation to a primary focus on foreign direct investment attraction. Allen led many trade and investment missions throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, which helped attract thousands more jobs to the region and billions of dollars of investment in key growth sectors of the regional economy.
LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics has become one of the most respected economic research Institutes in the region during Mr. Allen’s tenure and has published hundreds of reports on the local industry clusters, labor markets and international trading partners, as well as influential studies on public policy ranging from the economic impacts of the California Film and Television Production Tax Credit to the potential economic effects of raising the county’s minimum wage.
Allen established numerous successful recurring public events, including the annual Most Business-Friendly Cities in LA County Awards, the quarterly Future Forum series on the future of LA’s established and emerging industry clusters, and the annual Select LA Investment Summit, which draws international investors from around the world to explore Los Angeles as a foundation for their aspirations in America.
Named Nonprofit CEO of the Year in 2012 by the Los Angeles Business Journal, Allen has been named among LA’s 500 most influential leaders every year since the Journal established the list.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with the talented staff and Board of the LAEDC, who inspire me every day by their dedication to building a stronger and more equitable economy that can benefit all our region’s residents,” said Allen. “Our staff, board, and I all agree that LAEDC will be in excellent hands under the leadership of our COO Stephen Cheung, who will take over the CEO role in January. Stephen has been a tremendous partner to me in leading the LAEDC and WTCLA for the past seven years, and I’m genuinely excited to see where he will take the organization over the next decade.”
“Bill Allen has been an incredible leader for the LAEDC and our region, and I know will continue to be a positive force and catalyst for change in his many continuing civic leadership roles,” said Steve Olson, LAEDC board chair and partner, O’Melveny. “While Bill himself is irreplaceable, he has assembled a powerful team and prepared his successor well to continue the great work of the LAEDC. As Chair of the World Trade Center LA Advisory Board for the past seven years, I have witnessed firsthand what an extraordinary leader Stephen Cheung is, and we look forward to a bright future under his leadership of the LAEDC beginning in 2023.”
“Bill Allen has expertly led the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation through an era of transformation – partnering in our work to create a more inclusive and equitable economy. Bill has been a passionate advocate for all of our county residents, communities and employers. Bill’s legacy will continue with Stephen Cheung at the helm of LAEDC,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell. “Stephen has been a steadfast champion to crush the digital divide and to ensure an economy that works for all County residents. We are indeed grateful for Bill Allen’s 17 years of service and look forward to working with Stephen Cheung in the years ahead.”
“Los Angeles deserves leaders who uphold the highest standards of service, and one of those public servants has been Bill Allen. For 17 years, Bill led LAEDC — becoming one of the greatest champions for our regional economy, and through Bill’s efforts, our City and County have experienced stability and success with innovation and competitiveness,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, thank you, Bill, for your loyal service to our region and its people. I send my best wishes for your next chapter.”
Allen began his career in the entertainment industry with the CBS Television Network, later joining MTM Enterprises, where he rose to be President of MTM Television before helping to found and run The Valley Economic Alliance in response to the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. Allen will return to his roots in entertainment when he assumes the Chair of the Board of FilmLA in January. He will also continue his service on the boards of the Weingart Foundation, UNITE-LA, and The Valley Economic Alliance, where he served as its first CEO and has been a vice chair of the board ever since.
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About the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation – The non-profit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation champions equitable economic growth across the LA region. Collaborating with community, government, business and education partners to inform and advance our data-driven and evidence-based approach, we endeavor to achieve a reimagined regional economy – growing, equitable, sustainable, and resilient -that provides a healthy and high standard of living for all. LAEDC staff and members represent the diversity of Los Angeles County and act as trusted conveners, thought partners, valued service providers, regional stewards, and catalysts for transformational change.