ONN – Square Comes To Oakland, But Where’s City Economic Development Job Training?
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter (with Biz Stone and Evan Williams), is bringing his payment app tech company called Square to Oakland, complete with 2,000 workers.
Much has been made of what some see as the “dump” of more “gentrifiers” into an Oakland already made more expensive by the influx. But this blogger, who’s background is in urban economic development, and with the City of Oakland, looks at it another way.
Where’s the economic development job training?
The point is, as I shared (via the awful medium of Facebook) with Oakland activist and once candidate for Mayor of Oakland (and perhaps now Oakland City Council), Cat Brooks (who was knee-jerk pooing on development as “not hiring us”), long before she arrived in Oakland in 2007, we had a healthy “Hire Oakland First” program.
In fact, as then-Oakland City Council District One Representative Jane Brunner once observed, we has 120 non-profits that performed job training to some degree. And many of them received loans from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency.
In fact, the only really active version of “Hire Oakland First” was done by Oakland developer and friend Phil Tagami. In fact, in 2014, Phil explained that his work to build the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal and Oakland Global caused the creation of 425 jobs, 51 percent of which went to Oakland residents. And he agreed that the numbers needed to improve, and worked to do so. Overall, between 2013 and 2017, the Oakland Global / OBOT project generated 1,435 construction jobs, of which 403 were certified to be Oakland residents, 227 trade apprentices, and 158 disadvantaged workers.
By contrast, no one places any requirements or policies on Square that it have a large percentage of Oaklanders working for it, or trains a percentage. This is the job of Economic & Workforce Development Department, led by Mark Sawicki.
Overall, Mark Sawicki’s time has been disappointing. He’s an appointee of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and has basically rode a wave of real estate development and land speculation that’s seen a record number of people, mostly black, be made homeless. Thus, his economic development grade has to be an F, and due all to the homelessness problem. Mark Sawicki arrived in 2015, and has collected checks while the count of folks sleeping on the street has skyrocketed.
Would you believe that Mark Sawicki’s Linkedin page brags that he raised $10 million for affordable housing in Oakland? What a freaking joke!
I guess he didn’t get the memo that, according to now former Oakland Redevelopment Agency Exec Gregory Hunter, the agency raised $200 million for 1,900 affordable housing units in the decade between 2000 and 2011! By contrast, Mayor Schaaf and the Oakland City Council brag about landing a paltry $55 million for affordable housing.
And regarding jobs, taking the Oakland Redevelopment Agency away has cost the Oakland an estimated 7,600 jobs and the City of Oakland 171 city staff positions and 17 police officers that were funded by redevelopment tax increment financing. Think about that when you see Local 21 storm the Mayor’s Office because they’re not being paid enough:
And here’s the thing: we can get that back, but the Mayor and the Oakland City Council doesn’t do a thing.
Folks, the problems we face today in Oakland, we had the solution to, and that’s the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. San Francisco Assemblymember David Chu is trying to bring it back statewide, but the City of Oakland under Mayor Schaaf has not helped to date.
All that Mr. Mark Sawicki and the Mayor and the Oakland City Council have done is allowed the current lack of real economic development expertise to fester and cause inaction.
And here comes Square.
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