Issue #2                                                                                                              Winter 2011

Doing business in Oakland is easier than ever with the City of Oakland's one-stop Business Assistance Center. We want to remind you what the BAC can offer your business whether you are starting, relocating or expanding your business.  

The Oakland BAC can assist you with:
  • An individual face-to-face meeting to identify your needs and tailor an appropriate course of action
  • Guidance to the applicable City department or agency with specific contact name and information
  • Oakland backs Business, a resource guide for doing business in Oakland
  • Referrals to more than 40 external business support service partners
  • Assignment to an industry specific specialist within the Economic Development or Redevelopment staff for specific industry related inquiries
  • Step-by-step flowcharts outlining City permitting, licensing, regulatory approvals and much more
  • Location assistance including a customized site search based on your specific needs
  • Demographic and statistical information for your location and market
  • Online assistance center accessible 24/7 
  • Courteous, responsive serviceBAC sign
Visit our website
to explore everything we can offer.


The BAC can help you
find classes, workshops
or one-on-one

Read more

There are a variety of marketing services and opportunities available to Oakland businesses.
Read more

The City of Oakland offers
matching grant program
tax credit
incentives programs 

Read more



One of the Business Assistance Center's main objectives is to act as a personalized central resource for starting, relocating and expanding businesses in Oakland. Over the past six months, we have strived to accomplish this goal and are proud to announce the addition of four new businesses to Oakland. 


photo of Accurate EngineeringAccurate Engineering
Accurate Engineering Integrated Construction Services chose an office in downtown Oakland as the site for their first Northern California location. This rapidly expanding multi-trade construction firm is a family-owned business that was recognized in 2008 as the Minority Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They have successfully completed over 150 federal and state contracts over their 14-year history. Recently they have been awarded a multi-million dollar contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete projects located in Northern California.


The BAC was able to link Accurate Engineering with the City of Oakland's Local Employment Program, a division of the City's Contract Compliance Department, which will assist the company in recruiting a skilled workforce comprised of Oakland residents who will be paid prevailing wages. They have already provided two job opportunities to Oakland residents and are looking forward to becoming a significant contributor to the Oakland business community.


Pinnacle Installations
Pinnacle Installations, a window glazing sales and installation company for commercial and residential buildings, relocated their business from neighboring Emeryville to 2707 Wood Street in West Oakland. Established in 1992, Pinnacle has worked with a variety of high profile companies and brings an outstanding reputation for quality workmanship along with a bevy of employees.


The BAC was instrumental in helping Pinnacle obtain their business license as well as connecting them with the Enterprise Zone program which enables businesses located in Oakland's Redevelopment areas to take advantage of State income tax credits. 

B&C Transit
B&C Transit Inc., a national company which specializes in design/build engineering and all other phases of the transit industry, has relocated their West Coast headquarters to 7955 Edgewater Drive. B&C Transit has worked with well known clients such as BART, San Francisco MTA and the Los Angeles Metro. With a diverse staff comprised of engineers, technicians and project managers B&C Transit Inc. brings another cutting edge technology company to Oakland.


The BAC was able to provide site location assistance which was pivotal to them finding a location in the Oakland Airport Business Park Area. In addition the BAC was able to help the company navigate their way through the business license and zoning clearance process which was important to their transition.


Acupuncture with Grace
In addition to attracting larger companies, the BAC has also applied its resources to individual business owners such as Grace Chan, owner and operator of Acupuncture with Grace. A dynamic and growing acupuncture care clinic, the business has recently relocated from Southern California to 2939 Summit Street in the Pill Hill area. Grace was attracted to Oakland by the City's growing medical care industry along with our business friendly environment.


The BAC played a key role in helping Acupuncture with Grace navigate its way through the Zoning Clearance process. She is excited to be open for business and looks forward to continuing to tap into the BAC's resource network.

Forms of Business Ownership
As a new business owner, one of the first critical decisions you will make is deciding which form of ownership will best meet your business needs. Selecting the legal structure for your business should be well thought out and discussed with a qualified professional (e.g. attorney, C.P.A., etc.) who specializes in the subject matter.

In addition, as your business grows over time, you will need to determine whether a different form of ownership will achieve better results. There are a number of choices to consider when making your decision; in our e-newsletter series we will describe each business structure to help you make the appropriate decision for you and your business.

The most common structure is a "Sole Proprietorship" - this is the simplest form of starting a new business. It has no existence apart from its owner. A sole proprietorship consists of only "one" individual; ownership by more than one person creates a partnership.

Key Features:
  • It is inexpensive to start a sole proprietorship.
  • A separate bank account should be established to run the operation.
  • The owner of the sole proprietorship controls all facets of the business.
  • The business and the owner are one. There is no separate legal entity and thus no separate legal person.
  • The sole proprietor is personally liable for all debts and actions of the company.
  • The life of the business continues to exist as long as the business owner is alive. Once the owner dies, the sole proprietorship no longer exists.
  • It is advisable to purchase insurance to cover the risks of running your business. Consider consulting an insurance specialist on the matter.
There are a number of tax issues you will need to consider in this process so it is best to consult the IRS at or your accountant. 

All Businesses Need Insurance 
The dream of owning a business becomes a reality for thousands of people each year. For many of these would-be captains of industry, that means starting the operation on a small scale. However, your enterprise may be in jeopardy if you don't have business insurance.
You need business insurance because most beginning entrepreneurs don't have the financial resources to handle adversity if it should come. Adversity can happen in many ways:  your office or store is damaged by fire or vandalism, a power outage causes your goods to spoil, a customer is injured accidentally while visiting your location, your business has to shut down depriving you of income or a customer files a lawsuit against you.

Business insurance can protect you from these hazards and others by providing many or all of the coverage's listed below:
  • Accidental direct physical loss coverage for business personal property
  • Loss of Income coverage
  • Extra Expense coverage
  • Liability coverage
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on shoestring budgets and try to cut corners by keeping expenses to a minimum. When you consider what you get, business insurance becomes a tool you can't afford to work without. Contact an insurance agent to see what coverages are right for your business.

logo for the Alameda County Green Business Program

Become a Green Business: Save Natural Resources and Money 

Small to medium-sized business can get recognition for their environmental practices by becoming certified as Green Businesses with the Alameda County Green Business Program (GBP). Certification involves complying with applicable environmental regulations and adopting additional measures in the areas of Solid Waste Reduction, Energy and Water Conservation and Pollution Prevention.


To begin the certification process, visit and complete the enrollment form under Green Business Certification. Or contact Pam Evans, the Alameda County GBP Coordinator, at, to request an application.

Why should my business get certified as a Green Business?

  • Free Assistance - the GBP offers you free technical assistance.
  • Free advertising - the GBP promotes your business to the public and other businesses at no cost.
  • No fee - there is no fee to become a certified Green Business.
  • Save money - conserving energy, water and raw materials consumption saves you money.
  • Strengthen your commitment to the environment, your staff and the community - getting certified as a Green Business improves your environmental performance and the safety of your workplace. It also helps your company be an even better neighbor in your community.   
The BAC serves as a clearinghouse for a wide range of business support services provided by the City of Oakland and its 40+ external partners. These organizations help entrepreneurs to start a business, find financing, manage money, market & sell, grow to the next level and more!


Urban Voice - the sponsors of the highly successful entrepreneurial training program for individuals wanting to start, own and operate their own businesses - will start a new class of their Urban Fire training series beginning April 9 that runs through June 25, 2011. This series will include 11 classes and will provide all the basic tools needed for you to get your dream off the ground.

For more information, visit, or contact the BAC at or come by the BAC to pick up a flyer.


Alameda County Small Business Development Center (SBDC): SBDC offers free counseling to existing and certain start-up businesses and hosts seminars that focus on how to form a new business, obtain capital, increase sales and create new jobs. Examples of seminars include Starting a Business, Successful Business Plans, Accessing Capital, eCommerce & Web marketing and Retailing 101.


SCORE - Counselors to America's Small Business: For over 45 years, East Bay SCORE has provided expert advice and valuable resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their small businesses. SCORE serves individuals in all stages of business. Services are free and include membership, short-term projects, training and individual consultation.

logo for Merriwether & Williams Insurance ServicesAlameda County Contractor Bonding Assistance Program: Designed to help small local contractors obtain bid, payment and performance bonds and/or increase their bonding capacity for work on Alameda County contracts, this program is sponsored by the Risk Management Unit of the County Administrator's Office and administered by Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services. 


The BAC works closely with OBDC Small Business Finance (OBDC) to obtain loans between $5,000 and $249,500 for small businesses to start, grow and expand. While it may be hard to find startup capital through traditional bank financing, OBDC helps small business owners that are often overlooked because they are new in business, located in low- to moderate-income areas, have imperfect credit histories or marginal collateral.

Whether you are opening your business, trying to attract new clientele or promoting an event, Oakland has a number of networking and marketing outlets that may be able to help you:


The City of Oakland's Marketing department helps new businesses with media releases and events to announce their new businesses. To get more information, contact the Public Information Officer at 510-238-2107.


There are a number of business groups working together to grow business in Oakland:

Chambers of Commerce:
The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce ( provides a wide array of networking opportunities for its member firms. Additional benefits include access to group health insurance, City CarShare, discounts on office products, member-to-member discounts and certificates of origin for international trade. There are also a number of ethnically focused chambers of commerce in Oakland including:
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Alameda County -
Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce -
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce -

Oakland Unwrapped: This eCommerce site supports Oakland's small businesses and artists by providing them an online marketplace to sell their wares and interact with other small businesses in Oakland. With, you can start your own website and see how selling and shopping locally helps the community, economy and environment.


The BAC highlights three City incentive programs that help small businesses:

If your business is located within one of the highlighted Enterprise Zones, you may be able to take advantage of specific tax credits:

Hiring Tax Credit: Businesses located in the state Enterprise Zone (EZ) can take 50% of qualified employees' wages as a state tax credit, potentially worth over $30,000 per employee over five years.

Sales and Use Tax Credit: Businesses located in the EZ can receive a state tax credit in the amount of sales or use tax paid on qualified equipment or machinery purchases (including computers, copiers and phone systems) - up to $20 million available per business.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Businesses can receive a federal tax credit of up to $8,500 over two years for hiring an eligible job seeker.


Free architectural assistance up to $5,000 and 50% matching grants up to $30,000 are available to property and business owners for eligible projects within designated areas. Grant funds can be used to rehabilitate and repair exterior commercial building facades and exterior improvements. Eligible improvements include: new exterior paint, doors and storefront systems, new awnings and canopies, window replacement, new signage, rehabilitation of historic facades and landscaping and exterior lighting.

BEFORE                                          AFTER


Grants covering 50% of tenant improvement costs, up to $10 per square foot, are available to eligible entertainment and retail businesses in targeted areas of Downtown, Central, West, North and Coliseum areas of Oakland. To be eligible, a commercial space must have been vacant for six months or longer and have a prospective tenant.

For more information about any of these programs, contact the BAC so we can explain the details and see if the incentives program are a correct fit for your business.

Oakland Business Assistance Center
270 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, California (510) 238-7952       email: