Economic & Workforce Development

Who we are and what we do

Business Goals

  • Establish and implement an Economic Recovery and Community Development Strategy for the City of Oakland that charts a path for equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and clearly communicates to external and internal stakeholders the City’s economic values, goals, and actions for the next three years for business development, public/private development, workforce development, real estate asset management and cultural affairs.

  • Enhance existing revenue streams through economic development activities that increase economic security and create good jobs for Oakland residents and increase equitable investment in the City of Oakland.

  • Engage and link local and regional businesses, education institutions, and workforce providers to expand training and employment opportunities for Oakland residents and youth, particularly those from underserved communities, with disabilities, veterans, and justice involved individuals.

  • Manage and implement key business development activities to retain, expand, and attract businesses in key economic sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and technology; manage the Business Improvement District (BID) program in key commercial corridors; proactively implement Specific Plans and promote opportunity sites for new development; and transform the Oakland Business Assistance Center to offsite locations to better support small businesses with permitting, registration, financing, and technical assistance; support capacity building of neighborhood organizations advancing commercial revitalization.

  • Negotiate, implement, and continue support of major catalytic development projects including Coliseum, Henry J. Kaiser Civic Auditorium, the Fire Alarm Building, Oak Knoll, 12 St. Remainder parcel, City Center Parcel, 2100 Telegraph, 3050 International Boulevard and 95th and International Boulevard affordable housing projects and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects at West Oakland, Fruitvale, and Coliseum BART stations.

  • Manage the disposition of City-owned properties pursuant to the Surplus Land Act to prioritize affordable housing development.

  • Provide real estate services for leasing, appraising, disposing, and acquiring property.

  • Develop and implement a strategic portfolio asset management plan for all City properties.

  • Provide comprehensive marketing communications effort to create modern, attractive marketing collateral that helps communicate and market Oakland to investors, developers, new businesses, and other stakeholders.

  • Implement the adopted cultural arts plan; assist in the preservation and expansion of arts and cultural workspaces; support the recently reestablished Cultural Affairs Commission; implement public art capital projects and provide support to the newly adopted public art on private development ordinance; administer cultural funding grants to artists and non-profits, including coordinating outreach, workshops, panels, and professional services agreements; continue to support large-scale and neighborhood-level public events, festivals, and tours.



This division directs and coordinates work for the Department, including overseeing fiscal, budget, and personnel management, legal and legislative issues, and policy and procedure development, as well as other inter-departmental and inter-division special projects.

Business Development

This division is responsible for developing and implementing programs and strategies to retain, expand, and attract businesses to Oakland and help businesses succeed. Business Development also supports capacity building of neighborhood organizations supporting commercial revitalization. The division works directly with individual business owners and operators, developers, and professional organizations to support small businesses, to foster public/private partnerships, and to bolster Oakland’s competitive advantage and position in target economic cluster groups including health/life science; innovative digital media; clean & green tech; retail; manufacturing, logistics, and food production. This division also works to position Oakland as a desirable place to live, work, and invest through the creation of marketing collateral, multimedia communications, advertising, sponsorships, and other tools that help convey a clear coordinated message about Oakland.

Workforce Development

This division staffs the Oakland Workforce Development Board (OWDB) and manages Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds (WIOA). Guided by an adopted Local Plan, WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. The OWDB is charged with oversight of WIOA and workforce policy development. The OWDB funds adult and youth service providers, oversees the Summer Youth Employment Program, develops citywide job training initiatives, and oversees the operation of the West Oakland Job Resource Center.

Public/Private Development

This division is responsible for negotiating and implementing major land development and public improvements projects including Coliseum, Henry J. Kaiser Civic Auditorium, the Fire Alarm Building, Oak Knoll, 12 St. Remainder parcel, City Center Parcel, 2100 Telegraph, 3050 International Boulevard and 95th and International Boulevard affordable housing projects and TOD projects at West Oakland, Fruitvale, and Coliseum BART stations. The division manages the former Redevelopment Agency’s capital improvements such as streetscape projects, which were designed and constructed to reduce blight and support new and existing businesses and oversees the management of City-owned facilities, such as the Oakland Ice Center, the Scotland Convention Center, and the Fox Theatre. It is also responsible for winding down the affairs of the Oakland Redevelopment Successor Agency (ORSA).

Real Estate Asset Management

This division provides leasing and property management, acquisition, disposition, and commercial/residential relocation services for all City of Oakland and Redevelopment Successor Agency property. It provides real estate consultation services; conducts real estate appraisals; negotiates and monitors lease agreements with renters of City or Agency-owned property; leases property on behalf of the City/Agency; facilitates the assemblage of parcels for City/Agency projects; and advises the City Council and Redevelopment Successor Agency on real estate aspects of major development projects.

Cultural Affairs

This division provides oversight for the commissioning of temporary and permanent works of public art throughout Oakland; maintains the City's public art collection; disseminates public information on art projects; facilitates and consults on art projects generated by individual artists and for the development of community-generated art projects; and reviews proposed gifts of art to the City. It manages the City’s cultural arts grant program that supports Oakland-based art and cultural activities throughout the City. The division also oversees festival culture and coordinates film production. It conducts research into the social and economic impact of Oakland’s cultural ecosystem, e.g. The Oakland Cultural Plan - “Belonging in Oakland.” This division also staffs the Cultural Affairs Commission, an advisory body which was re-established in February 2020.

Special Activities

This division helps ensure the safety of a broad range of businesses and activities and promotes equitable opportunities within these sectors. Subject areas include cannabis businesses, cabarets, massage establishments, mobile food vending, second-hand dealers, bingo, amplified sound, and special events. Through the City’s cannabis equity program, the Special Activity Permits Division implements a variety of strategies to support business and employment ownership opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs most impacted by the War on Drugs. Equity Program strategies include free technical and legal assistance, interest-free revolving loan and grants programs, shared-use manufacturing facilities, workforce development grants, and a property purchase program.



External Services

Community Liaison and Capacity Building

Build the capacity of new organizations and partner with existing business servicing organizations to strengthen Oakland's local economy.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)

Ongoing management and support for formation of BIDs.

Small Business Support/Retention - Business Assistance Center (BAC) 2.0

Provide direct technical assistance to small businesses.

Business Grants

Provide grants to businesses such as for facade and tenant improvments (redevelopment funded), those impacted by the development of the BRT line, and the Transforming Climate Communities grant in East Oakland.

Large Business Retention and Attraction

Attract and retain larger businesses and employers. Act as liaison between businesses and Planning, Police, Real Estate and other City departments.

Opportunity Zone Development

Through the Chief Opportunity Zone Officer, work to align and promote equitable development in opportunity zones to benefit Oakland residents.


Conduct marketing and outreach efforts to promote Oakland, retain and sustain existing businesses, and attract new businesses. Share resources and information with business community.

Implement Major Development Projects on City-owned and RDA Land

Negotiate Exclusive Negotiation Agreements (ENAs), Lease Disposition and Development Agreements (LDDAs) and Disposition and Development Agreements (DDAs) for real estate development on City- and former redevelopment land.

Dispose of Surplus Sites for New Development

Manage offer and disposition of City and former redevelopment owned sites for new development.

Asset Management of Major City Assets

Ongoing asset management (operations, capital repairs, etc.) of major City assets including the Paramount, Fox Theater, Oakland Ice Center, Scotlan Convention Center.

Ongoing Redevelopment Programs

Manage ongoing redevelopment programs, including streetscape improvements, blight abatement, and maintenance of former redevelopment sites.

Process Real Estate Transactions for External Parties

Process real estate transactions for outside stakeholders doing business with the City through asset donation, purchase, sale, easements, etc.

Use of City Property to Address Homelessness

Manage use of City property to address homelessness.

Use of City Property to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

Manage use of City property to address COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery, including use of City property for testing and business operations (Flex Streets program).


Negotiate and process agreements with telecom providers to expand large cell and small cell (5G) telecommunications service in Oakland; execute license agreements for poles.

Manage the Summer Youth Employment Program

Implement the annual summer youth employment program to provide job training and summer placements for Oakland youth.

Manage Adult and Youth Service Provider Contracts

Develop, manage and execute contracts with adult and youth workforce service providers for job training and employment services to unemployed or underemployed Oakland residents.

Business Engagement

Provide business services for employers including participating in the Oakland Workforce Collaborative, hiring events, on the job and customized training and conducting virtual job fairs to connect workers with employers.

Workforce Development for Cultural Workers

Develop a program to employ Oakland artists to do civic work. Develop program criteria and secure grant funding for a pilot.

Cultural Grant Making

Issue cultural grants twice annually for organizational assistance and individual artists and organizational projects.

Creation and Preservation of Cultural Spaces

Develop policy changes to create and preserve cultural spaces; liaison and provide technical assistance to the arts and cultural community on space needs; liaison to real estate developers on cultural spaces.

Special Events Permits and Film Office

Permits and administers special events, films and festival culture.


Local, regional, national advocacy for Oakland Cultural Affairs around policy, funding, etc.

Internal Services

Economic Operations

Develop 3-year Economic Development Strategy for 2021-2023, develop and implement Economic Recovery Framework for COVID-19 and track and report out economic data on an ongoing basis.

Financial Project Monitoring

Monitor ongoing real estate projects with active public funding agreements, such as Coliseum Connection, Seminary Point shopping center, MacArthur Transit Village, etc.

Management of Fox Oakland Theater (FOT)

Staff and manage the ongoing operations of FOT - a subsidiary entity responsible for oversight and management of the Fox Theater.

Manage the Oakland Renaissance New Markets Tax Credit Program (ORNMTC)

Staff and manage the City's New Markets Tax Credit entity to provide funding for development projects in Oakland.

Process Real Estate Transactions for City Departments

Process all real estate transactions, including acquisition, disposition, leasing, licensing of City assets with activities including negotiation, valuation and inventorying of City assets.

Lease Management

Manage all leases and licenses of City property to third parties (out leases) and leases and licenses of third party-owned property for City uses (in leases).

Site Acquisition Strategy

Develop a 5-year strategy for the acquisition of property to support City objectives, including acquisition of sites (i.e. buildings, hotels, and dormitories) to address homelessness.

Remnants/ Small Site Disposition

Develop and implement a 5-year strategy for the disposition of City remnants, sliver parcels, and other small sites not suitable for large scale development.

Develop 2021-2024 Local and Regional Workforce Plan

Develop and implement workforce plans to comply with regional, state and federal compliance requirements.

Board Management

Staff and manage the Workforce Board, including regular board and executive committee meetings, recruitment, etc.

Federal, State, Local Compliance

Administer and oversee the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act rules and regulations including develop mandated strategic partnerhips, program and fiscal management and monitor contracted service providers to ensure compliance.

Public Art Program

Manage public art for Capital Improvement and Private Development projects.

Councils & Commission

Staff and manage meetings of the Public Arts Advisory Council, Funding Advisory Council and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Fiscal & Personnel Management

Work with Division Managers to provide fiscal management for dept.'s budget and accounting, including performing Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Procurements, and General Ledger functions. Also, work with Division Managers to recruit for and fill vacancies, onboard new hires, and coordinate other Human Resource activities including investigations, discipline, and appraisals.