As part of a plan to reduce racial disparities and promote economic opportunity for all communities, Oakland is working to revive the 7-mile International Boulevard corridor, which crosses through the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods and improves the economic conditions in far East Oakland. In light of the impact of COVID-19, Oakland is also striving to help small businesses, especially those in historically vulnerable neighborhoods, survive and rebuild during and after the pandemic. Working with the Department of Economic and Workforce Development, FUSE Executive Fellow Marsha Murrington helped engage property owners, implement business recruitment strategies, and promote revitalization without displacement along the corridor.
Marsha led work on a grant that resulted in the city receiving $28.2 million to implement a range of projects in East Oakland and supported the city’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. To lay the groundwork for the grant, she engaged with relevant city staff, grassroots organizations, and residents in far East Oakland to develop plans for improving their neighborhoods without displacing residents and businesses. The grant will create more than 60 jobs, 55 units of affordable housing, a health clinic, an aquaponics farm, a bike lending program, the planting of more than 2000 trees, and a Creekside trail linking the neighborhood to the shoreline. To sustain the transformative work in East Oakland, Marsha also helped two local Black nonprofits establish operations. Marsha’s pandemic response support included applying for grants to support economic recovery and identifying partners to assist with the reopening, rebuilding, and recovery. Marsha developed multiple small-business support initiatives while also leading the implementation of grant-related development projects in East Oakland. This included securing (still in the final process) a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant for $1M. The Department will partner with two key organizations, the Unity Council and Black Cultural Zone CDC, to provide direct services to small businesses along the International Boulevard corridor.