City leaders help Oakland businesses grow

May 2, 2008 6:45:57 PM PDT
The goal is 10,000 jobs over five years but the slowing economy is not only taking a chunk out of the bottom line of businesses, its also creating a deficit at City Hall.

It's a tough time to be holding an economic summit in Oakland.

Despite gloomy economic news, Oakland business and government leaders took the next step in their partnership to create 10,000 jobs in five years.

"We feel confident that when we look back in a year or two years from now, we're going to be pacing along with 10,000 jobs," said Oakland Chamber of Commerce CEO Joseph Haraburda.

Unemployment numbers released on Friday show retail, manufacturing and construction companies were hardest hit in April with more than 130,000 jobs lost.

That was nationwide. Construction workers in the Bay Area that took part in a topping off ceremony at the Jack London market are happy to have jobs. But they know layoffs are a part of the industry.

"That's pretty common with big construction outfits like that. They man up, they get the big jobs, they hire everyone, they clean out the union halls and then once the buildings are built, the halls get filled up again until the next project comes along," said Leonard Burgo from Howard S. Wright Construction.

The city of Oakland's budget predictions are not holding up. The 2008-2009 forecasted budget planned for a three percent revenue growth, equal to a $14.4 million increase.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums says there is a budget deficit, but he would not speculate on how deep the cuts will go.

"There's going to be some heartburn, there's no question about it," said Dellums.

The economic summit shined a light on some growth industries, including health care, maritime and green technology.

And with the recent restaurant robberies, police protection is also an economic issue.

"People need to be able to go to restaurants at night, walk the streets at night and feel safe and secure and comfortable. In communities where people feel that businesses are going to come, communities flourish, people benefit," said Dellums.

Friday's conversation is over but it's the actions that will decide if it was a success.


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