Issue #3                                                                                                                Spring 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 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 - now available in Spanish and Chinese
  • Referrals to more than 30 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 main emphases of the Business Assistance Center is to help entrepreneurs start, relocate and expand their businesses in Oakland. This quarter we are featuring a business that has recently opened as well as an established company that has relocated its headquarters to Oakland. 


Photo of interior of Kumon Learing Center in Oakland, Calif. Kumon Learning Center 

The BAC is excited to announce the opening of a Kumon Learning Center owned and operated by Sim Peyron, an educator with a commitment to helping youth achieve their academic goals. With a long history of success, Kumon is the world's largest afterschool math and reading enrichment program and one of the most established franchise businesses in the world.


The BAC was instrumental in helping Peyron navigate the City's Zoning process as well as providing detailed demographic data. Sim's Kumon Learning Center is located at 6239 College Avenue, Suite 301.



Gateway Bank

Gateway Bank is relocating its corporate headquarters from San Leandro to Oakland's Uptown district. Gateway Bank came to the BAC for assistance with licensing and zoning regulations related to their new location. A federally chartered, minority-owned thrift, with total assets exceeding $306 million, Gateway Bank began operations in June 1990 and already has an existing branch in Oakland located on 8th Street.


The corporate office will have a staff of over 65 employees including the senior management team. Gateway Bank has demonstrated a commitment to the community by providing resources to Oakland entrepreneurs through its small business loan programs. The BAC is looking forward to adding Gateway to our network as well as linking them with our resource partners including the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  

Forms of Business Ownership
In the last issue, the Forms of Business Ownership explored Sole Proprietorship. In this issue, we look at Partnerships.

A partnership involves two or more persons carrying on a business for profit. The business is not a separately taxed entity, but rather a conduit where the profits or losses of the partnership flow through to the partners. There are two basic types of partnerships: a general partnership and limited partnership.
A general partnership involves two or more persons who agree to create a business and to share the profits and losses. All of the partners share equal rights and responsibilities in managing the business. In addition, each general partner assumes full liability for the debts and obligations of the partnership.


A limited partnership involves two or more persons who agree to create a business and share in the profits and losses. A limited partnership has at least one general partner and at least one limited partner. The general partner is responsible for managing the business affairs, while the limited partner typically provides only capital to the partnership. As in a general partnership, each general partner assumes full personal liability for the debts and obligations of the partnership. The limited partner's liability is limited to their investment in the business.


In order to form in California, a limited partnership must first file a certificate of limited partnership with the California Secretary of State. A limited partnership formed in another state must register with the California Secretary of State prior to conducting business in the state.
Key Features:
  • A partnership is a flexible form of business and relatively easy to set up.
  • The partners will decide the structure of the organization and the distribution of profits and losses. A formal, written partnership agreement is advisable.
  • A separate bank account should be established to run the operations.
  • A partnership allows more than one owner, unlike a sole proprietorship.
  • The cost to form a partnership is generally less expensive than forming a corporation.
  • The partnership does not pay income tax. However a limited partnership must pay an annual tax of $800. The items of income, deductions and credits "flow down" from the partnership to the individual partners through the California Schedule K-1 (565). Partners share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc. Each partner is responsible for paying taxes on their distributive share.
  • In a general partnership, each partner is personally liable for all business debts and lawsuits.
  • A partnership exists as long as the partners agree it will and as long as there are at least two partners, one of which is a general partner.
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.

In our next issue, we will discuss Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).


BAC Welcomes Additional Staff
The Oakland Business Assistance Center (BAC) is growing. We Image of Roberto Costa and Susana Villarreal, BAC staff membersare extremely fortunate to welcome Roberto Costa and Susana Villarreal to our staff.
Roberto will assist with the process of starting and expanding businesses in Oakland. His activities will also focus on the retention of existing Oakland businesses by working hand-in-hand with active local business associations.


Roberto's rapport with members of the small business community including technical assistance non-profits, small business lenders and City staff is a great asset. He can be reached at 510-238-2353 or He is fluent in Spanish.

Susana Villarreal currently runs the Enterprise Zone (EZ) program which offers State tax credits for hiring or for purchasing capital equipment to businesses located in the EZ. She has run the EZ program for 16 years.
Susana brings a tremendous amount of energy and expertise to the program. She relocated to the BAC some months ago as part of the Economic Development Department's reorganization. If your business is looking for Oakland business incentives, please contact Susana at 510-238-7794 or She is fluent in Spanish.
The BAC's staff of five professionals is available to assist you!

The BAC serves as a clearinghouse for a wide range of business support services provided by the City of Oakland and its 30 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's entrepreneurship training program recognizes that new startups and micro businesses (4 or less employees) help create many of the Bay Area's new jobs. Their goal is to help anyone interested in starting a new business with training and hands-on support. For the next series of classes, please visit In the meantime, please support Urban Fire's graduating class members by attending the Ignite Business Expo on June 24 from 8a.m. to 3p.m. in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. See you there.


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 -


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.

While there have been discussions at the State level regarding cuts or reform to the program, we are happy to say nothing has happened to date. We are signing new businesses up each and every day! So if you want to take advantage of the great tax incentives, please call Susana Villarreal at 510-238-7794.


Free architectural assistance up to $5,000 and 50% matching grants up to $45,000 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


The Tenant Improvement Program (TIP) is an incentive program that offers property and business owners matching grants on a dollar-for-dollar basis for improvements to the interiors of vacant retail spaces. The program is designed to assist property owners in attracting retail businesses to locations that are difficult or costly to renovate and incentivize new retail businesses to locate within targeted geographic areas. This program is only available for commercial spaces that 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: