There’s been a shake-up in the ranks of local economists.

Robert Kleinhenz, who has been the chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. for the last four years, is moving over to become executive director for economic research at Beacon Economics, the company announced Tuesday. Kleinhenz has been replaced at the LAEDC by Christine Cooper, who was promoted from within.

Kleinhenz, 57, will focus on economic analysis and forecasting for Los Angeles-based Beacon. He joins a team led by founding partner Christopher Thornberg, who started Beacon a decade ago after leaving the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“Robert is an exceptional economist who has deep analytic expertise and brings creative new insights to our team,” Thornberg said. “He has been a force in Los Angeles and throughout the state for years and we are thrilled to integrate his acumen into our products and work.”

Kleinhenz said Beacon approached him with the opportunity.

“I knew I wanted to return to private consulting,” he said. “But I also wanted to broaden my scope of work. My work at Beacon will look at statewide economic trends as well as the Southern California economy. And I’m welcoming the chance to work hand-in-glove with Christopher (Thornberg).”

Kleinhenz joined the LAEDC in 2012 following the retirement of Nancy Sidhu as chief economist. Prior to that, Kleinhenz served as deputy chief economist for the California Association of Realtors. He also taught economics for more than 15 years, most recently at California State University Fullerton.

Cooper joined the LAEDC around the same time as Kleinhenz. As director of the nonprofit’s Institute for Applied Economics, she has helped prepare a series of reports on local industry clusters, including aerospace, trade/logistics and construction.

“Cooper’s expert insights into our regional economic industry clusters and labor force, and the public policy that effects them both, have been guiding LAEDC’s initiatives and programs, helping LAEDC become invaluable to our public and private sector partners,” said Bill Allen, the LAEDC’s chief executive.

Prior to joining the LAEDC, Cooper was a co-founder of a start-up computer company in Hong Kong and also helped established the first authorized Apple computer retailer in China. She has also lectured at California State University Long Beach and the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.

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