Translation Disclaimer

Office of Economic Development
Office of Economic Development

Updates: Office of Economic Development


Civic Arts Grant Applications Due April 25 2019Photo caption: “Vote!” Poster by Lena Wolff, funded in part by Civic Arts Grants for Individual Artist Projects in FY 2019. 

Every year the City of Berkeley provides grant funding, administered by the Civic Art Program, to support a variety of arts and cultural activities. This program awards grants up to $17,000 to support nonprofit arts organizations and festivals, and offers up to $5,000 for individual artist projects.  


 For information on how to apply, please visit the Civic Arts Grants webpage. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2019 at 5 PM

OED Offers New Support for Berkeley’s Small Businesses 
The City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development has partnered with Uptima Business Bootcamp and Project Equity to provide new services to small businesses in Berkeley.  

Uptimauptimabusinessbootcamppic Business Bootcamp and the Bay Area Organization of Black Owned Businesses now offer a small business retention program in the City of Berkeley. Through this program, small businesses that are at high risk of displacement or closure in Berkeley can receive free business advice.  For information or assistance, visit, email or call 510-227-7027.

Project Equity is a non-profit that specializes in helping businesses remain independently-oprojectequitywned and rooted in their communities, preserving jobs and the economic vitality of cities over the long term through employee ownership. Selected businesses will complete formal feasibility assessments and enter into Project Equity’s Transition Program.  For more information, visit , email or call 415-646-5577.  


The City of Berkeley Adopts Zoning Amendments to Support Small Businesses

On February 27, 2019, the City Council adopted streamlined zoning rules to make it easier for small businesses to get a land use permit in Berkeley. The six modifications to the zoning ordinance were developed in consultation with Berkeley’s commercial district associations, individual business owners and operators, and other community stakeholders. Staff also considered recent experiences of businesses that decided not to locate or expand in Berkeley due to the City’s permitting process, and the impacts that long permit review timelines or significant costs have on small, independently-owned businesses and Berkeley commercial district vacancies. The updated municipal code will:

1. Reduce the amount of parking required for businesses moving into existing commercial spaces;

2. Simplify food service categories by reducing them from three to one;

3. Reduce permitting time and costs for small businesses that request a change of use in existing commercial spaces;

4. Clarify the permit process for new business types that may not be specifically defined in the City’s zoning rules;

5. Make ‘commercial recreation’ uses (such as bowling alleys, miniature golf courses or ping pong clubs) easier to permit in commercial districts; and

6. Streamline the permit process and provide clear performance standards for restaurants that wish to serve beer and wine.

 OED is already working with clients for whom the permit review process has been shortened dramatically, as reported on in a March 18, 2019 Berkeleyside article. For more details on the new regulations, review the staff report submitted to City Council or give us a call.




  OED Releases Updated Citywide Economic Dashboards 

Twice annually, OberkeleydashboardED presents data and analysis about Berkeley’s economy to Berkeley’s City Council (see the Information Report from March 26, 2019). These Berkeley Economic Dashboards help support business location decisions, marketing, and research by including key City of Berkeley economic indicators, such as business occupancy, commercial vacancy rates and other demographic statistics.

Specifically, the March 2019 Berkeley Economic Dashboard examines citywide trends in economic development including: employment, real estate, housing development, sales tax, and other indicators of economic performance. The citywide Economic Dashboards, as well the Commercial District Dashboards which offer a focused look at economic performance in Berkeley’s nine neighborhood-specific commercial districts,  can always be found on the Reports page of our website.


 Berkeley Tech Leaders Share their Career Experiences with Berkeley High School Students at College and Career Week 

Berkeley High School’s College and Career Week in March 2019, OED Chief Strategist of Sustainable Growth, Elizabeth Redman Cleveland, facilitated panels for students curious about “Careers in Tech” with Berkeley startup fouCourtesy of Berkeley Unified School Districtnders and tech industry professionals.   

In a panel on Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, and Tech-enabled Marketplaces, Arun Rao, Co-Founder and CEO of machine learning startup Starbutter AI; Founder and CEO, Hanmei Wu, and Lead Software Engineer, Hanjoon Kim, of Empowerly’s subscription-based platform for lifelong college and career advising; and award-winning filmmaker and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Producer, Siciliana Trevino, shared their career trajectories, the challenges they are solving with their businesses and technology platforms, and their life on a typical work day. In another panel on Business Development/Entrepreneurship, Salesforce Account Executive Vatora Godwin (and the Vice President of BOLDforce: The Black Organization for Leadership and Development); Ameena Golding, the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Telos.AI (a workplace collaboration tool); and Sean Wihera, the Director of Business Development with Clarity Movement (a startup providing next-generation air quality management solutions to cities around the world) shared how their companies approach business development, the things they learned in high school that have helped them succeed in the business world, and what students can do today to prepare for a technology career.

All of the speakers are Berkeley SkyDeck startup founders, work at a Berkeley-based tech startup, or graduated from Berkeley High and now work in the tech industry.


The 2019 East Bay Innovation Awards Recognize 4 Berkeley Companies 

At the March 2019 East Bay Innovation Awards ceremony, the Wareham Development/ QB3 East Bay Innovation Center received the Catalyst Award for its West Berkeley life sciences incubator. Berkeley-based Rigetti Computing took home the prize for 2019 East Bay Innovation Awardsthe Information and Communication Technology category -- they are building the world’s most powerful computers to help solve humanity’s greatest problems, have raised over $119 million from investors, and have more than 50 US patent applications on file.  At the March 2019 East Bay Innovation Awards ceremony, the  Wareham Development/ QB3 East Bay Innovation Center  received the Catalyst Award for its West Berkeley life sciences incubator. Berkeley-based Rigetti Computing took home the prize for the Information and Communication Technology category -- they are building the world’s most powerful computers to help solve humanity’s greatest problems, have raised over $119 million from investors, and have more than 50 US patent applications on file.

OED also congratulates Poly Plus Battery and Cyclotron Road, who were 2019 iAward finalists. To learn more, visit  2019 East Bay Innovation Awards

Innovation Asset Tours Expose City Council to Berkeley Innovators 

OED worked with partners at the CITRIS Invention Lab, CITRIS Foundry, CITRIS Tech Museum and Berkeley SkyDeck to organize the first two Berkeley City Council tours in 2019 to show off Berkeley’s “Innovation Assets”. Future tours will explore the Berkeley Lab, Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Bonneville Labs, and Wareham Development’s QB3 East Bay Innovation Center.  

 Biocom Mayors Roundtable with the Cities of Berkeley and Emeryville, April 3, 2019

Berkeley Biotech Companies Engage with Mayor Jesse Arreguin  

In April, Biocom and the Cities of Berkeley and Emeryville teamed up to host a roundtable discussion between Berkeley Mayor Jesse ArreguínBiocom Mayors Roundtable with the Cities of Berkeley and Emeryville, April 3, 2019 , Emeryville Mayor Ally Medina, and more than two dozen leaders from the local biotech industry. Amongst the topics of discussion were new housing developments in the cities, how the region is uniting to tackle issues like homelessness and transportation connectivity, and permitting resources for new businesses. The life science community expressed appreciation for the mayors’ thoughtful feedback on these issues, and all parties look forward to further collaboration.

Berkeley-based Magoosh Speaks About the Importance of Diversity   
OED worked with Berkeley SkyDeck to organize and promote a discussion in early March between Bhavin Parikh, the CEO and founder of Magoosh (a Berkeley-based online test prep company) and Michael Berolzheimer, general partner of venture capital firm, Bee Partners. In this SkyDeck fireside chat, “Why Investors Like Startups with Inclusive Hiring Practices”, Parikh and Berolzheimer discuss the importance of eliminating hiring bias and creating an inclusive workplace culture -- and how this impacts overall business success.  City of Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin offered opening remarks, including the City’s commitment to helping Berkeley’s tech sector grow in a way that aligns with the community’s values of equity and inclusion. Stay tuned for future events that will encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Berkeley’s tech ecosystem.  

  OED staff, Mayor Arreguin, City Councilmembers Hahn, Harrison, and Robinson, and community partners at UC Berkeley’s CITRIS and the Banatao Institute


Berkeley-based Artist Masayuki Nagase Selected to Create Artwork for the N. Berkeley Senior Center  Proposal imagery by Masayuki Nagase for the carved pavers

The Civic Arts Program conducted a community-engaged selection process to choose Masayuki Nagase’s artwork proposal for the entry plaza of the soon-to-be renovated North Berkeley Senior Center. Masayuki Nagase proposed to create a variety of carved stone pavers that will be integrated into the plaza’s paving and a large carved stone table-bench to be located in the plaza’s seating area. The artist chose the tree as the main metaphor of the artwork; it represents unity, community, and diversity. The artwork will be completed and installed in conjunction with the completion of the Senior Center renovations. For more information on this project please visit the Civic Arts Program North Berkeley Senior Center Project webpage

Home | Web Policy | Text-Only Site Map | Contact Us
Office of Economic Development, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7530
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903