West Oakland Commerce Association (WOCA)

The West Oakland Commerce Association (WOCA) is a non-profit 501 c6, volunteer organization to develop, attract and retain businesses in West Oakland. WOCA acts to create an environment in which business is understood, welcomed and supported in West Oakland by working with residents, other associations, city officials and county, state and federal agencies regarding the fundamental relationship between quality of life and economic vitality.


WOCA serves as an essential resource for businesses wishing to locate in West Oakland by providing personalized information, advice and follow-up to ease the process of locating a business in the area. WOCA leads the West Oakland Business Alert Program (BizAlert), which is staffed by City Economic Development division. For information contact WOCA Vice President, Internal Affairs, George Burtt at grant_burtt@earthlink.net or (510) 839-6999.

City of Oakland Economic & Workforce Development Department

The City of Oakland’s Economic & Workforce Development Department aids small and large businesses in their day-to-day operations, provides technical assistance, including regulatory and permit guidance, and helps businesses with site location. The Workforce Investment Board staff work with local providers on job training and placement programs. The Business Assistance Center is available on a walk-in basis for business information and financing referrals. The Project Implementation Team works directly with development opportunities, utilizing local state and federal funds to leverage private investment. Contact: Hui Chang Li (510) 238-6329.

Helpful Resources

Oakland Business Assistance Center – 270 Frank Ogawa Plaza – (510) 238-7952

The City of Oakland’s Economic Development division assists in establishing, locating, expanding and growing businesses. The office is able to customize location searches for clients, makes referrals for financial resources, guides businesses on the types of permits they may need from the City, and inform businesses about City programs that may help them grow and expand.

Ten Step Program

  • Evaluate your needs and determine your location
  • Create a Business Plan
  • Check Zoning Regulations
  • Decide on a Business Structure (Sole Owner, Partnership, Corporation, etc.)
  • Register a Fictitious Name Statement. Search for duplications of the name and then record through a local newspaper (Oakland Globe, Oakland Post, etc.)
  • Get a Business Tax Certificate (license) (City)
  • Obtain important permits (City, County Environmental Health, State, Federal)
  • Get Employment Identification Number (State)
  • Get a Resale License (State)
  • Open a checking account for your business
  • Recruit & train employees (check with Oakland Workforce Investment Board staff for potential subsidies)


Every business must find out whether the location has the proper zoning for their activity. A Zoning Clearance is required for every business as part of its Business Tax Certificate (license). In some cases additional permits may be required, including Conditional Use Permits or Design Review for building alternations in addition to Building Permits for construction. A Fire Department review of a business’s activities is required if the business will be using, processing, or storing chemicals, and if the business is located within 300 feet of a residential zone. Both maybe obtained by a visit to the Planning Department and/or the Fire Department at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza (2nd and 3rd floors). For your businesses recycling needs, look to the Alameda County Waste Management Authority at www.stopwaste.org.


A Business Tax Certificate (license) is required for any business conducted in Oakland, including contractors doing work on any structures in Oakland, home occupations, and anyone deriving income from self-employment within Oakland. Visit the first floor of 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza for an application.


City staff can generate customized reports for clients using a commercial database with the latest information on properties available for lease or sale, whether or not a client has already selected a broker. Staff can also provide up to date information about City projects and improvements in various business districts, and contacts for merchant or business improvement districts.


Find out what’s happening in your District and subscribe to the District Three list serve by contacting Brigitte Cook, Community Liaison/Scheduler for Councilmember Lynette McElhaney at BCook@oaklandnet.com. (510) 238-7003.


See the City’s mapping of the latest crime statistics and get Oakland Police Department tips at Crime Watch. Join your local Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council by contacting your local Neighborhood Service Coordinator at (510) 238-6372.


For general City of Oakland inquiries – (510) 444-CITY (2489)

Oakland Business Assistance Center – (510) 238-7952

City Business License – 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Ground Floor – (510) 238-3704

West Oakland Business Alert:

Meets the Third Wednesday of every month, 2525 Mandela Parkway, Large Conference Room. For information email mprado@oaklandnet.com

West Oakland Commerce Association:

George Burtt – Vice President, Internal Affairs: grant_burtt@earthlink.net or (510) 839-6999

Oakland City Council:

Councilmember District 3 – Lynette Gibson McElhaney: lmcelhaney@oaklandnet.com

Brigitte Cook, Community Liaison/Scheduler for Councilmember McElhaney: BCook@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7003

Oakland Police Department (OPD):

  • Police Area 1 Captain – Captain Drennon Lindsey
  • Crime Reduction Unit – Officer Thomas Quezada
  • Problem Solving Officer – Officer Nathan Walker

Other helpful numbers (OPD):

  • Call Emergency (911) if a crime is in progress or you are in danger – (510) 777-3211 (from a cell phone)
  • 510-238-3821
  • Illegal Drugs 510-238-3784
  • Illegal Firearm or Firearm Offense 510-535-4867
  • Assault Hotline 510-637-0298

West Oakland Works administration: Mprado@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-6766


Economic Revitalization of West Oakland will occur both intrinsically with local, independent retailers, creative offices and flex space activities. Traditional and emerging industries in green design, engineering & construction, creative tech & media, publishing & printing, arts, and custom manufacturing, including a flourishing specialty food & beverage sector, already occupy many of the area’s industrial facilities. Future adaptive reuse of older industrial structures will bring new modern industrial activities and a range of commercial opportunities. Technical, scientific ventures will follow with the construction of new commercial facilities in the district’s major thoroughfare, as heavier traditional industrial uses relocate to other industrial zones to the west (adjacent to the Port) and the east.


City of Oakland Workforce & Economic Development Department – www.business2oakland.com

Aliza Gallo, Economic Development Manager – agallo@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7405

  • Major Projects
  • Business Retention, Expansion and Attraction
  • Strategic Partnerships with Governmental and Private Entities

Margot Lederer Prado, Senior Economic Development Specialist – mprado@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-6766

  • Manufacturing & Industrial Uses
  • Arts, Engineering & Design
  • Food & Beverage

Steve Lautze, Green Industry Specialist – slautze@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-4973

  • Green Business
  • Recycling-Based Businesses
  • Alternative Energy Businesses

Keira Williams – kwilliams@oaklandnet.com or
(510) 238-3853

  • Retail
  • Small Office

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