Oakland - Dan Vanderpriem, City of Oakland's Community & Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Director listened intently as Michael Carter, Chairman of the Black Wall Street Merchants Association (www.blackwallstreet.org) explained the historical significance of the Merchants Association and the Black Wall Street District in Oakland. Vanderpriem beamed as Carter provided insight on the original Black Wall Street District in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1830-1921) and the entrepreneurial, spiritual and economic connection to Oakland. "I was enlightened as to how a community of merchants of color can come together and make business opportunities possible for future generations in East Oakland using history." Vanderpriem said.
Ed Dillard, President of Black Wall Street Merchants Association asked Vanderpriem to meet with some of the board members and merchants to develop a partnership with the Association. On August 11th, Vanderpriem obliged, and brought with him several high ranking members of the City of Oakland CEDA team that included Stephanie Floyd-Johnson, CEDA Commercial Economic Revitalization Director, Aliza Gallo, CEDA Business Development Services Director and Gregory Hunter, CEDA Redevelopment Area Manager.
The Black Wall Street Merchants Association executive team included Carter, Board Chairman; Michael Cotton, BWSMA Board Vice Chairman; James Haywood, BWSMA Board Member; Ed Dillard, BWSMA President, and Glenda McComb, MBA, Executive Director for BWSMA. Another 12 merchant members were also present.
Floyd-Johnson laid out the marketing and promotion component to the new partnership between CEDA and BWSMA. Floyd-Johnson said "we are committed to producing a merchant brochure covering design and printing cost, light pole banner coordination and other merchant marketing materials and assistance".
Gallo presented information that dealt with enterprise zone opportunities and benefits, employee tax credits and City of Oakland Small business financing and grants. Gallo said, "The problem with most business retention issues in East Oakland and in the Black Wall Street District in particular is the lack of knowledge about available city supported resources." Gallo said. "Our goal is to partner with the Black Wall Street Merchants Association and make those resources available on an annual basis in the form of workshops and seminars."
Hunter, the CEDA Redevelopment Area Manager for the Coliseum area provided insight into the future economic development plans and how the Black Wall Street District fits in to those projects. Hunter unveiled the photos of what will be the Charles Hill Square (2009) between 94th and 98th Avenues on International Boulevard.
Carter said, "The Black Wall Street Merchants Association will use every promotional and economic tool available to promote the Charles Hill Square as a place to be and shop. And shine light on the success of an African American developer. We will promote it to the 3.5 million African American who visit the 10 County Bay Area each year from all over the nation."
McComb said "I was impressed with the level of preparation the CEDA team has displayed. The information was precise and in-depth at the same time simple for any small business owner to comprehend."
In the weeks following the announcement of the the new partnership between CEDA and BWSMA it was agreed that BWSMA will make the City of Oakland's Business2Oakland Program (www.business2oakland.com) and major component of BWSMAs' New Business Project. The BWSMA New Business Project provides resources and support for small businesses to develop and create new enterprise in the Black Wall Street District
Dillard said "Our board of directors have designed and printed 100,000 brochures detailing the location of Black Wall Street District merchant members locations on International Boulevard and phone numbers. As we attempt to provide marketing strategies to drive customers to merchant businesses we hope that the community will join us in our collective effort to enhance and improve the retail shopping experience for Black Wall Street District consumers." Dillard said, "We are grateful that The City of Oakland CEDA team sponsored 100% of the design and the printing of 30K of the 100K brochures"
Carter said, "The new partnership exhibits the genuine commitment Dan Vanderpriem and CEDA has in making African American and all diverese businesses thrive. We are pleased so far with this union." Carter said, "We are also thankful for the energy and commitment Council Member Desley Brooks (District-6) and Council Member Larry Reid (District-6) have made to the small business owners in Oakland." "The 'Black Wall Street Spirit' is 176 years old and has every intention to see the 'Dream' realized." he Said.