Earlier this month, the Oakland Tribune reported new FBI statistics showing that Oakland has more robberies than any other city in America. This is disheartening news, but there’s one glaring omission from this kind of reporting – property crime has something to do with economic conditions.

Oakland reported 4,338 robberies last year (the most since 1993). But robberies don’t occur in a vacuum.

So consider that stat in the context of a data point reported by EBASE in their 2012 publication, The State of Work in the East Bay and Oakland, “In 2010, parts of West Oakland had stark unemployment rates as high as 44 – 45 percent and East Oakland as high as 31 – 35 percent.”

While academics don’t share a consensus about the complex relationship between crime rates and economic conditions, most studies do acknowledge that economic conditions play some role in affecting incidents of crime, particularly property crime.

What’s clear, though, is thousands of Oakland residents (our neighbors) are living hand to mouth, and in some neighborhoods, quality employment opportunities don’t exist. So while strengthening Oakland’s police force is an important way to ensure that we all live in a safe environment, we must also seize the opportunity to invest in effective job creation initiatives.

Creating targeted employment opportunities is a cheaper, more effective way of increasing long-lasting public safety, and improving the quality of life for everyone who lives in this community.

The good news is there’s a solution that’s already working.

At Inner City Advisors, we are building an Oakland economy that works for everybody by creating good jobs and hiring locally from targeted communities (people who are formerly incarcerated, aged-out foster youth, people learning English as a second language, and people with low education attainment levels).

People with good jobs are the catalyst for increased economic activity, safer neighborhoods, improved health, and better education. And when people earn higher wages, they have the capability to invest in their own neighborhoods.

ICA’s model is working effectively on this front, and these numbers tell a powerful story for how to build stronger communities.

Last year, ICA created and retained 2,602 good jobs, and generated $93,415,611 in local wages. ICA Portfolio Companies pay an average hourly wage of $18 an hour, 83 percent offer health and dental insurance, and 73 percent hired workers with barriers to employment.

Furthermore, 59 percent of ICA companies are owned by women and 48 percent are owned by people of color.

For every $1 donated to ICA, we create $87 in local wages.

We’re doing our part to increase livable wages that move people from subsistence, to bigger savings accounts, to building long-term assets.

How do we do it?

We help local, small businesses grow by providing them entrepreneurship education, strategic advice, hands-on management, and investment funds. And then we partner with effective workforce development agencies to provide job access for the hard to employ.

Take Revolution Foods, for example. They joined the ICA Portfolio in 2005 with six employees.

Now, with 819 employees, they’re ranked number two on Fortune Magazine’s 2013 Inner City 100 list of fastest growing inner city companies, for the second year in a row. And they headquarter their operations in a 17,500 square foot facility right here in Oakland.

Would you like to see more Oakland businesses grow to create hundreds of new good jobs? Here’s how you can help.

On June 12 at 6 p.m., we’re throwing a big celebration at the historic Fox Theater to raise funds that will help ICA grow the next Revolution Foods. Last year, more than 1,200 people packed the theater to share enchanting stories, learn insightful lessons, eat delicious catered food, and connect with good-spirited people.

If you believe that creating an equitable economy is a great way to ensure a safer Oakland, then place your bet on high-impact entrepreneurs to create good jobs for all, and go all in with ICA. You can click here to purchase your tickets.

We hope you’ll join the mission to build a local economy that benefits all of its residents.

ICA is a 501c3 certified nonprofit organization. To learn more about how we’re creating good jobs and local hires, visit http://innercityadvisors.org/2013.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.


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11 Responses

  1. Ken Knudsen

    make Oakland safe ? bring back all the industry that has been shipped overseas, the foundries, machine shops, steel fabricating plants the General Motor auto plants, the canneries, Granny Goose, Gerbers, Mother’s Cookies
    a city of over 400,000 people can’t survive without producing something

    • Oakie

      We do need business in our city of 390,000 (that’s a 5% decline in the last ten years in a time when New York grew by 10% because it got safer and safer while we continue to be mired in violence and mayhem).

      Personally I don’t want heavy industry, with all it’s concomitant pollution, etc. or the garbage food industrial complex that helped make Americans the least healthy first world people on earth. Think about your karma before you endorse those evil doers.

      My dog, we in the Bay Area have such fantastic examples as Apple, Google, Pixar and Lucas Films. I want my child to have the opportunity to work for them, not some 20th Century relic. Only exception is Tesla, which does do manufacturing but is in an enlightened company, more software than bolt tightening.

      The problem is that Oakland has worked overtime in making our city the most highly taxed in the state and clearly puts so many hurdles in the way of new business that we have a virtual Unwelcome Mat put at our doorstep. Why do you think Pixar, when they chose to relocate in the East Bay, chose Emeryville instead of Oakland? No, we have a paucity of business located here because of what we have done to make them unwelcome.

    • todd

      How very Archie Bunker of you Oakie. Less than 30% of Oaklanders over 25 hold a bachelor’s degree, but you feel our future should be with companies like Apple, Google, Pixar, and Lucas Films? Doing what, pray tell? Cooking in the cafeteria? Vacuuming the rugs at night? Washing the windows? Inner City Advisers is working to grow small businesses in our town that provide living wage jobs for the people who live in Oakland now, not the gentrified community you seem to want us to become.

    • Oakie

      Well, Todd, I’ll ignore the name calling. It’s an indication you don’t have a very good argument. And you really should do something about that anger, buddie.

      First, I’ll challenge you to show a repudable source that more than 70% of Oaklanders over 25 don’t have college degrees. I know there are areas in east and west Oakland with low rates, lower than 30%. But I’ve lived here more than 30 years and among a much larger portion of the population, where college educated are an overwhelming part of the population. You should mix more.

      There is a large immigrant population, and of those, the over 25 share of the population do not have college degrees, but they’re mostly already working their butts off so their kids will be able to succeed.

      I don’t believe that 70% of the population here is distressed underclass without hope unless you, Todd, lead us with your charitable magnanimity.

    • todd

      Archie, when told there was an unemployment problem, would pull out the wanted ads and point out all the jobs for engineers…accountants…doctors…then ask why people didn’t apply for those jibs. Ignoring the obvious reason that they didn’t have the education for them. Just like you seem to be doing.

      And while your anecdotal evidence is just fascinating, the US Census Bureau says the number is 30.9%. Oops. Guess I’m wrong by a whole 0.9%.
      (http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Oakland.htm). You got me.

      But you didn’t get me so much to forget my question of you: what do you suggest the Oaklanders who don’t move in your circles do at Apple, Google, Pixar, and Lucas Arts? Or in the Oakland you envision should they get used to asking “Do you want that super sized?”

      Yous seem to be suggesting we try and attract companies of the type that require a whole new workforce in Oakland. ICA seems to be suggesting we help develop companies that provide living wage jobs for the people who live in Oakland here and now. I for one think they have a pretty good idea about rejuvenating our town. And that you don’t.

  2. Adam's Point Local

    The quickest way to making anyplace safer is the direct and active involvement of member’s of the community. Turning a blind eye to things that don’t look right, not reporting crimes when they happen, and not following through with the prosecution, is a culprit in the bigger scheme of things.

    What motivation do those committing robberies have to move their operations elsewhere if they know that 88% of the time, no cops will be called and even if they are, the victim 99% of the time doesn’t follow-though with prosecution for a number of reasons – they have replaced the item stolen or simple fear of retaliation.

    If EVERYONE called the police and EVERYONE followed through with prosecuting those committing crimes, believe you me, the drop in street crime would be noticeable and dramatic.

    As long as it’s somebody else’s problem – nothing will change, business that stay in business stay where the money is to be made; and crime is a business just like any other.

  3. Oakie

    This is hokum.

    New York City has a higher poverty rate (20%) than we do (18%), and yet their murder rate is 5.5 per 100k population, while ours is 34. Robberies are similarly out of proportion.

    It is even more stark because in New York extremely rich live cheek to jowl with very poor people much more so than we have in Oakland, where extremely rich people are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

    Better come up with a better excuse as to why so many Oaklanders CHOOSE to obtain guns, walk up to innocent people and demand their valuables under threat of violence being done to them.

    I think you are simply making up excuses for very bad and very violent behavior….. And maybe the reason New York has so much lower rates of violent crime is because they have stopped making excuses for that kind of behavior.

  4. Oakland Native

    @Oakie on May 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm said: Amen! People make choices, not “economic circumstances”. People. If there are no jobs in one area then move to another.

  5. P-K4

    As far as what the city can do with its budget, the way you make Oakland safer is with more COPS. After that, we can address things like jobs. After the people are SAFE from criminals, we can then begin to focus on improvement. Oakland already offers a pretty good jobs training program for people who take advantage of it. It’s called the school system, and the training there is free.

    That said, I will support this organization, since they are doing good work.

  6. Adams Point Resident

    As someone who was just robbed this very evening in my neighborhood.. well i think we should look at all options and approaches to make this awesome city (still love it, but a little hurt by it at the moment) the best it can be. ICA sounds interesting, and I’ll be checking it out. Thanks for the article!

  7. leggetopo

    I am brand new here (to Oakland Local, not the city), and just read post by Adams Point Res. I live on Lee St. I’ve heard of, and seen, an increase in crime, violent and otherwise, over the past year or two. I’ll be paying close attention to you guys’ comments and articles. Thanks for this place; refreshing!


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