City of Oakland | Launch of the neighborhood business assistance program…

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Date posted: February 7, 2022 at 12:57 PM
Last update: February 7, 2022 at 1:02 p.m.

Oakland, California – Following a four-month pilot program, the city’s Department of Economic Development and Workforce has changed its name and is officially launching a permanent business support program in Oakland neighborhoods. The new Neighborhood Business Assistance program has added a sixth location and opened appointment dates through June 2022. Appointments can be booked online at oaklandca.gov/BizHelp or by calling (510) 238- 7398.

“Making this support available in the neighborhoods where small businesses call home strengthens the foundation of Oakland’s economy,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Small businesses create jobs and provide the goods and services our residents and visitors need while contributing to the character of our beloved city.

With the demonstrated success of the pilot program, business development staff worked with the library to reserve locations through June and added a downtown location to provide more options for entrepreneurs and business owners. .

The six Neighborhood Business Assistance Program locations are:

  • 81st Avenue Library (every other Tuesday evening)
  • César E. Chávez Library (every other Wednesday evening)
  • Downtown Dalziel building (every other Wednesday morning)
  • Eastmont Library (every other Friday afternoon)
  • Golden Gate Library (every other Thursday morning)
  • West Oakland Library (every other Monday morning)

Neighborhood Business Assistance appointments continue to be by reservation only at oaklandca.gov/BizHelp. Simply click the “Visit Scheduling Page” link and select a location to view available times. Non-English speakers, those without internet access, or anyone in need of assistance can also schedule an appointment by calling (510) 238-7398.

Reminder emails and SMS (when business owners provide a text-enabled phone number when booking an appointment) will be sent automatically.

“Direct technical assistance and service provider referrals are core functions of our efforts to support small businesses as we work toward an equitable economic recovery,” said Alexa Jeffress, Director of Economic Development and Workforce. work.

Through our staff and our partnerships with business support organizations, we offer in-person support in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Assistance in other languages ​​will be provided by the City’s telephone interpretation service.

During appointments, staff are able to share information and provide referrals on available loans and grants; connect entrepreneurs with partners providing start-up support; provide insight and navigation through the City’s business licensing process; and help with other common questions and challenges. Support and additional information can be provided by phone or email after the first appointment.

Success of the pilot program

From September to December 2021, city staff hosted free one-on-one 30-minute meetings for entrepreneurs and business owners at five neighborhood libraries (West Oakland, 81st Avenue, César E. Chávez, Golden Gate and Eastmont). These locations were chosen based on the suitability of available municipal facilities, anticipated interest within the business community, and equitable access for previously underserved neighborhoods.

The pilot program allowed staff to collect data (i.e. number of appointments booked, number of clients served, locations serving business owners the most, etc.), gauge interest within the business community and learn about the City’s resource needs throughout the year. program.

A customer satisfaction survey was sent to all participating companies in November 2021 to evaluate the BAC remote pilot program. In November, the total number of appointments made was 64; actual appointments totaled 53 with a 17.1% no-show rate. Over 26 hours of direct service were provided. Of the survey respondents, 80% identified as African American, 60% as female, and 90% were residents of Oakland. Overall, the satisfaction rating was 4.3 out of 5.

The two best performing sites (Eastmont – 28.3% of bookings and 81st Avenue – 22.64% of bookings) were East Oakland libraries.

The demographics collected through the survey demonstrate that the program has reached and served our target audiences of entrepreneurs and business owners who identify as BIPOC and women. By making appointments available in neighborhoods, we provide service in areas of East Oakland and West Oakland that have historically experienced underinvestment and mitigate digital barriers by offering in-person assistance rather than support. virtual.

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