This is the executive summary of the economic report published by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. A copy of the entire study can be seen with a click > here.
The text that follows is directly from the summary. I disagree with the overall recommendations, but welcome feedback from others to start a debate. I feel that the recommendations are too weighted toward the development of large industries, ignores the impact of the sports indusry in Oakland, and has no mention of the need to develop small businesses.
It's also too focused on biotech, and that's been talked about for 20 years, and we've still got nothing to show for it. I think we should make our strengths stronger, and that's small business, restaurants, shops, and information, and sports.
Here's the study....
OAKLAND’S ECONOMY TODAY
Historically, Oakland’s economic foundation rested on strong manufacturing, transportation, and
healthcare industries. Today, these continue to be important pillars of Oakland’s economy; however,
given the pressures of the global economy and market trends in the US, these three sectors are
transitioning and facing difficult challenges. In addition, industries such as biotechnology, clean
energy, and arts, design, and digital media present new opportunities for the City.
To date, Oakland’s traditional core industries have declined considerably and the City has not
successfully nurtured new ones. This has led to some unfavorable dynamics among the sectors that
make up Oakland’s economy today.
Over the past 6 years, a period that includes the dot-com bust and the real estate boom, Oakland
grew jobs in the aggregate more quickly than both the US as a whole and the Bay Area.2 From 2001-
2006, Oakland’s employment grew at an annual rate of close to 1 percent (CAGR)3; by contrast,
US employment grew at about 0.6 percent annually, and the Bay Area lost jobs at an annual rate of
1.4 percent. Despite what sounds like encouraging news, the erosion of Oakland’s traditional sectors
The City’s employment concentration in manufacturing is lower than the nation and the Bay Area
(6 percent vs. 11 percent for the US and 10 percent for the Bay Area). Oakland’s transportation sector,
despite growth in some areas, shows an overall decline at a rate of 2 percent as companies shift
employment elsewhere and capacity at the Port suffers constraints. Finally, healthcare, on the rise
nationally as Baby Boomers age and new technologies spawn new treatments, is not keeping pace in
Oakland, with growth nearly flat (0.1 percent) compared with the US growth rate of 2.5 percent.
The good news is that Oakland possesses a number of cultural, historic, and regional strengths upon
which it can build to seize a number of very promising opportunities:
• A creative and entrepreneurial local culture. Always a magnet for environmentalists,
scientists, artists, and civic-minded people, Oakland and the East Bay, including the
University of California at Berkeley, are productive incubators for many of the industries in
• Transportation hub. Oakland’s historic position as a transportation hub offers a tremendous
opportunity for the East Bay to capture some of the growth in the logistics industry. Oakland
could leverage its infrastructure and connectivity to capture more activities involved in
synchronizing the movement of goods in today’s global economy.
• Partner in the Bay Area region. Oakland enjoys significant opportunities due to the
vibrancy and global competitiveness of the Bay Area region. The Bay Area leads the nation
in information technology, biotechnology, venture capital, and many other sectors, and is the
benchmark against which most regions compare themselves. Oakland, with its talented labor
pool, available real estate, and central location, stands to attract much of this business.
To identify opportunities with the greatest promise of strengthening Oakland’s economy and
sustaining its cultural values, industry sectors were prioritized along four dimensions: employment
concentration and growth (to identify drivers of the economy); attractiveness to potential new
companies and employees (a series of qualitative measures including Oakland’s cultural and valuebased
strengths), and productivity.
Oakland’s historical strengths, current economic profile, potential untapped opportunities, and
the fundamentals underpinning its economic health were all examined and considered in the
development of this report. In the final analysis, four overarching recommendations for the City
• Build strategically on Oakland’s historic, regional, and emerging strengths:
– Strengthen existing sectors such as healthcare, trade and logistics, and retail
– Leverage the assets of the Bay Area and UC Berkeley to develop Oakland’s role in the
region’s biotechnology industry
– Leverage the City’s central location, talented workforce, cultural values, and proximity to
UC Berkeley and other schools to grow new economic activities in green industry; arts,
design, and digital media; and specialty food manufacturing
• Improve the balance of key sectors in the economy, placing priority on high-growth, highwage
industries such as biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and others.
• Address the City’s economic fundamentals that enable the rest of the economy to flourish
– Public safety
– Education and workforce training
– Business climate (with particular emphasis on supporting small businesses)
– Land use policy (framed to be consistent with the City's economic development goals and
• Understand the economic opportunities and constraints the City faces and work
collaboratively to seize those opportunities and address the constraints. Little progress can
be made unless government, business, education, and labor leaders work together to achieve
shared goals and objectives.
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