Champion of Southern California Economy Dies at 76

Economist Jack Kyser called the Southeast home.

By EGP News Report

Jack Kyser, the former chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. and an oft-quoted expert on the financial health of the Southland, died Monday at age 76.

Kyser retired from LAEDC over the summer, and was serving as a chief economic adviser for the Southern California Association of Governments.

“Today I share in the sadness of many as we learned of the passing of Jack Kyser,” SCAG President Larry McCallon said Monday following the news of Kyser’s passing. “Southern California has lost a true champion in Jack.

“Jack’s unique ability to work across sectors and engage diverse groups of stakeholders will be admired and will surely be a part of his continued legacy,” he said.

Kyser at the Southern California Association of Governments Economic Summit on Dec. 2

A Huntington Park native, Kyser earned his master’s degree at USC. Prior to joining LAEDC in 1991. He worked for Security Pacific National Bank, First Interstate Bank and Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, Neb. He taught economics at the University of Nebraska and was a business commentator on radio station KVNO in Omaha.

Kyser also worked for eight years as an economist with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
LAEDC President/CEO Bill Allen called Kyser a “tireless champion of Los Angeles County.”

“He loved the county’s varied communities, its diverse people and the boundless opportunities available here,” Allen said. “He was affectionately dubbed the ‘guru,’ the ‘godfather’ and the ‘voice of the Los Angeles economy’ for his great depth of knowledge, insight and uncommon ability to articulate complex economic concepts and issues in simple and understandable terms.”

Because Kyser was a local resident, with roots in Huntington Park and Downey, “it wasn’t like he was a stranger from a different county or a different state,” said Eddie Tafoya Executive Director of the Commerce Industrial Council in the City of Commerce.

Kyser spoke annually at several local business chambers, including the Vernon Chamber of Commerce. He was scheduled to speak at an upcoming event of the Commerce Industrial Council.

“We’re still coping with the fact that we won’t have Jack Kyser at our January meeting where he presented the economic forecast… No longer will the CIC Chamber begin its year with his knowledge and insight,” said Tafoya

He was sad to see Kyser, whom he calls “one-of-kind,” retire from his position at LAEDC, but was “delighted” when he heard he was to become the chief economist at SCAG.

It was just a few months ago that Vernon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Thomas Andersen introduced Kyser as the keynote speaker at the Chamber’s economic forecast luncheon. He said Kyser “grew up just down the road from Vernon” and remembers that he had a “fondness for Vernon.”

“Yes, he LIKED Vernon,” Andersen wrote EGP in an email. “Forget city politics. He saw it through the eyes of an economist. He knew how important Vernon was, and still is… nobody paid him to say those things. He realized how irreplaceable the types of businesses that exist in Vernon are.”

The economics department of the LAEDC was renamed in 2007 the Kyser Center for Economic Research.
George McQuade, a publicist who works for LAEDC and worked closely with Kyser, said Kyser had a knack for putting “complicated economic language in layman’s terms.”

Kyser was the “go-to person on anything to do with the economy,” McQuade said. “He’s going to be dearly missed.”

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December 9, 2010  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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