August 22 2013

Economic Development for Sustainability in Oakland, California

Economic development can often be overlooked in the pursuit of sustainable urban planning, however, the three E’s of sustainability consist of Ecology, Equality and Economy. In promoting economic sustainability, Oakland’s Business Assistance Center (BAC) provides resources for economic ventures, of which, Oakland Grown, a program of the Sustainable Business Alliance, is a prime example of organized effort towards strengthening the local business presence. Such advocacy of independent and locally-owned businesses work to increase the local multiplier effect of keeping spent dollars circulating within the community.

Funding through the city is also available for Tenant Improvement, an Environmental Site Assessment Loan Program and Enterprise Zone program, which, for example, offer hiring and equipment-tax savings. The Oakland Business Development Corp. (OBDC) also offers small business loans under $250,000 for viable ventures that may not qualify for traditional loans. The city has also recently become trustee for the Kiva Zip program, to manage micro-lending services of crowdsourced loans, starting at $5,000 and 0% interest; increasing in loan amounts and number of borrowers as the program matures.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

Brown Sugar Kitchen is an OBCD loan recipient that serves soul food in West Oakland and has been featured in “O” magazine and PBS’s Great American Chef Tour.

The city also provides market conditions for eight Key Industries of Oakland, including Arts and Digital Media, Retail, and Green Business. The East Bay Green Corridor is a cooperative effort to attract green industries and jobs, as well as enabling workforce training in the green economy through the Oakland Green Jobs Corps.

At a more grassroots level of workforce building, hackerspaces are increasing in presence within Oakland, incubating ideas and innovations of local movers and makers. Ace Monster Toys is such a space, offering twenty-four hour access for members to a warehouse for networking and resources such as industrial equipment like sewing machines, a 3-D printer, CNC router, engraver, bench-top mill, laser cutter, computer workstations, electronic parts, materials, and training to use it all. It was also the birth grounds of Hacker Scouts, who offer technology workshops for kids.

Ace Monster Toys

From left to right at Ace Monster Toys, Secretary Atom Bomb holds a laser cut wood panel next to one of the original Founders and Board of Directors member, Al Billings, in front of a work in progress on a laser cutting and engraving machine.

Ace 3D printer

A finished head sculpture sits on the Ace Monster Toy’s 3-D Makerbot printer with another work of layers in progress.

Overall, such independent growth in Oakland enables future development of an economy that is locally strong and sustainable. In your community, what local businesses and services do you recognize as strengthening the economy of your city?

Credits: Images by Gina Kiani. Data linked to sources.

Gina Kiani

Gina Kiani is a Graduate student at the University of Southern California and will complete a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology in the Fall of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Urban Environments. The primary direction of her objectives and pursuits focus on the use of Geographic Information Science (GIS) to facilitate Sustainable Urban Planning. Her interest in GIS concerns how spatial analysis can provide an over-arching context to many of the themes that are relevant to the interpretation of data and information required in efficient decision-making and modeling. With indisputable evidence of anthropogenic induced climate change, she hopes to utilize GIS in areas such as change detection of atmospheric composition and water levels, epidemic outbreaks, deforestation, reforestation, energy and food production etc., to contribute to the continual characterization, monitoring and evaluation of natural resources for sustainability purposes. Her skill-set includes dissecting and performing the critical components of a site suitability analysis, sustainability inventory, spatial analysis, field techniques for GIST, programming and customization, spatial database management, research and dissemination. Her final year of study will include project management and her thesis in GIS for Sustainable Urban Planning. As the Oakland and Berkeley California correspondent for Global Site Plans, she hopes to remain current on relevant development issues and discover emerging GIS strategies while advocating for sustainable planning.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 at 9:06 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Education and Careers, Environment, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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