The Kapor Center for Social Impact, DevLabs and the City of Oakland recently announced the launch of a new initiative to support Oakland-based tech entrepreneurs. Oakland Startup will bring together resources and service providers to reduce the barriers to entrepreneurship for under-served and under-represented tech demographics, including women and people of color. It aims to increase the number and success rate of tech startups, both by increasing access to social and financial capital and through engineering a reduction in the time it takes to build a profitable business. “We are excited about the possibility of creating a pipeline of outlier tech entrepreneurs from Oakland who are solving difficult problems using software solutions,” said Ruben Hernandez, CEO of Devlabs. “We believe in the talent and the commitment of Oakland tech entrepreneurs to solve problems in their communities and scale them to the world.” Interested entrepreneurs can find out more at www.OaklandStartup.net.
For over 30 years, Oakland has directly funded artists and organizations through the Oakland Cultural Funding Program. This year, 78 Oakland-based artists and organizations received grant awards, including filmmaker Tony Nguyen for his documentary “Fresh Frozen,” about a small sandwich shop trying to stay afloat in a rapidly changing neighborhood, and the 3rd Annual Black-Eyed Pea Festival, a cultural celebration of African American traditional food, music and art. In total, this year’s Cultural Funding awards will support over 8,000 arts events and activities, the majority of them offered free or low-cost to the public. The City anticipates that over 300,000 people will participate in these cultural arts services. For more information, please contact Cultural Funding Program Coordinator Denise Pate.
The solar industry accounted for 1 in 50 jobs created last year nationwide and is one of Oakland’s fastest growing business sectors. Local solar star Mosaic, the charter member of Oakland’s Powerhouse solar accelerator, has grown to 130 employees and is hiring more. Mosaic is the largest lender for home solar in the U.S., recently surpassing the $1 billion mark. To maintain and increase diversity as it grows, Mosaic is doubling its incentives for new hire referrals that are female, veterans or people of color. For more information on Oakland’s clean and green technology companies, contact Economic Development Specialist Steve Lautze.
After two decades of supporting and growing local companies, including Revolution Foods and Blue Bottle Coffee, ICA Fund Good Jobs launched their first Good Jobs Accelerator in 2016. The inaugural cohort includes 10 Bay Area companies, including Oakland’s Red Door Catering, Mr. Sparkle Window Washers, Eby Construction, Onigilly, AGW Screen Works, 4505 Meats, Spotlight:Girls, Chop Plentii and Reem's. Together, they are projected to create over 200 local jobs in 2017. The 10 companies are supported by Good Jobs Accelerator's fully integrated model to work through their growth and fundraising strategies, organizational development, marketing and branding, and must first complete the “Growth Strategies” course at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy sponsored by ICA Fund Good Jobs and Mills College.
With Oakland’s commercial market at a historically low vacancy, major new leases may bring the return of new office construction. Healthcare provider Blue Shield has signed a letter of intent to lease about 200,000 square feet of office space in an approved office project to be built by Shorenstein Properties at 601 City Center. Separately, the University of California's Office of the President (UCOP), already one of Oakland’s largest employers, has signed a letter of intent to take about 100,000 square feet at 1100 Broadway, an entitled site in Oakland's downtown core which developer Ellis Partners is acquiring from SKS. For more information, please contact Director of Economic & Workforce Development Mark Sawicki.
In 2015, 3.6 million visitors spent $607 million in Oakland. The #OaklandSpotlight campaign helps tourists find local businesses in the city’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Every month the City's Tourism Bureau, Visit Oakland, features a new neighborhood and highlights its unique cultural institutions, attractions and restaurants: the places that make Oakland a great place to live and an unforgettable place to visit. Highlight the places that make your neighborhood special with the hashtag #OaklandSpotlight and they may be featured next!