Did you know that Plaid Friday -- now a national holiday to support local, homegrown retailers -- started in Oakland? Stores throughout Oakland will offer events and special sales November 27th to kick off the holiday season. Over 50 stores along the free Broadway Shuttle route are participating (see map), offering everything from books to home goods, canoes, and canines. In the spirit of the holidays, the City of Oakland will offer free parking in commercial districts throughout the City every Saturday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Time limits apply. Check out local business champion Oakland Grown's events page for special events and retailer promotions for Plaid Friday and beyond. Happy holidays from City of Oakland!
Oakland is home to some of the best bagels and donuts anywhere. Take a break from your holiday shopping at one of Oakland’s many neighborhood bagel and doughnut shops. Find Authentic Bagels in Jack London Square, Beauty’s Bagels on Telegraph (now serving latkes for Hanukkah), vegan Pepples Donut Farm in Golden Gate, Doughnut Dolly in Temescal Alley and Donut Savant downtown. Build community with your coffee at the newest entrant on the scene, Mamacitas Café, which hires and trains young women to run food businesses -- and don’t miss their famous donut kebabs and fabulous event catering.
The Oakland Business Development Corporation (OBDC), the City's nonprofit small business lending partner, has received three major grants to improve equal access to capital for Oakland business communities. First, Wells Fargo awarded OBDC nearly $1.5 Million from their Diverse Community Capital Program to fund outreach, business support services and lending for African American entrepreneurs, including a new Entrepreneur in Residence program. The program provides incubation support for three to six months to promising young entrepreneurs with new small businesses. OBDC also received a Small Business Administration grant of $150,000 to provide technical assistance to U.S. military veteran entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. For more information on OBDC’s small business lending and clients, click here. Finally, OBDC also received a grant of $800,000 to capitalize a new International Corridor Job Fund, which will provide both loan capital and job training subsidies to small businesses along International Boulevard in East Oakland. For more information on these programs and other small business resources, contact Economic Development Manager Aliza Gallo.
Two Oakland organizations won $500,000 awards in the 2015 Bay Area Google Impact Challenge: The Hidden Genius Project and Kiva Oakland. The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship and leadership skills. With their grant, they will launch a multi-year intensive program to train an additional 100 young men and serve a total of 2,000 youth over the next three years. Kiva Oakland crowdfunds zero percent interest loans for small business owners who run social impact businesses but may not be able to access more traditional capital. Over three years, they’ll generate $4 million in funding for 800 community entrepreneurs to build their businesses and strengthen Oakland's neighborhoods and economy. For more information on Kiva Oakland, contact Business Development Coordinator Juno Thomas.
Better Ventures, an Oakland-based venture capital firm, has created a $1 Million fund to back local technology companies that are pursuing positive social and environmental outcomes. Better Ventures will invest $100,000 each in 10 pre-seed stage startups with an emphasis on companies based in Oakland and those started by UC Berkeley founders. Current companies in Better Ventures’ portfolio include Oakland solar startups UtilityAPI and Bright Current. For more information on tech and social enterprises, contact Economic Development Specialist Marisa Raya.
Per last year's voter-enacted law, Oakland's minimum wage will rise each year with the Consumer Price Index. Effective January 1, 2016, this year's rate rises 30 cents,
from $12.25 to $12.55. Employers are required by law to inform employees of the increase by December 15, 2015. Official minimum wage posters and other resources for both employers and employees are available at oaklandnet.com/minimumwage.
BikeSharing is coming to Oakland! Through partnerships with Bay Area Bike Share and system designer Motivate, 850 bikes will be stationed throughout Oakland in 2016. A community outreach process will begin in February to get feedback from Oakland residents and businesses and to help determine the location of stations. Get a jump on the process by going to www.bayareabikeshare.com to sign up for updates and suggest.bayareabikeshare.com to suggest and comment on station locations. To stay informed on the City's steady progress implementing the Bicycle Master Plan, subscribe to the excellent I Bike Oakland Newsletter.
Oakland-based transit agency BART has launched an innovative training program to provide up to 100 students from low-income areas with the technical knowledge to pursue transit-related careers. “Students will learn highly practical skills they can take directly to the workforce while BART will gain our most valuable resource: qualified, dedicated employees,” said Assistant General Manager for Employee Relations Allison Picard. For more information on workforce training programs, including how to set one up for your business, contact Workforce Development Specialist Tamara Walker.