Saturday, August 3, 2013

Downtown Oakland's Business Scene Getting Better and Better

Downtown Oakland keeps growing and thriving, and the tech industry is starting to take notice, adding hundreds of jobs soon to The Town.

The Oakland Tribune's George Avalos reports that two small tech companies, and Vigilent, are moving into one of Oakland's most beautiful buildings, the iconic I. Magnin building next to the Paramount Theater. The companies are bringing a combined 100 jobs with them to the building, which is an Art Deco gem.

The I. Magnin building recently was bought for $9.8 million by Tom Henderson, an entrepreneur who also bought the Tribune Tower building. Henderson is going to operate a call center out of the I. Magnin, which will bring 500 additional jobs to downtown Oakland.  Here's what Henderson said about the deal:

"Oakland is a great city, in a great location, and there are a lot of opportunities here. We want to bring a lot of new jobs to Oakland."

Vigilent vice president Christopher Kryzan noted that Oakland's central location is a huge plus and its business scene has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, adding:

"Oakland is a vibrant, changing city. Access to BART and other public transit is very important to us."

That's the thing about Oakland. A decade ago, its economy was stronger than people gave it credit for. Now, after Jerry Brown's 10K program and the Fox Theater renovation helped spur the city's restaurant and entertainment renaissance, downtown Oakland has gotten even financially stronger.

There are big tech companies such as Pandora (not to mention Pixar just down the road in Emeryville). There also are solar giants such as Sungevity. Lastly, there are more people living and working in downtown Oakland and more companies and businesses there now than at any time in Oakland A's history. In short, all the elements are here to support a new A's ballpark along the Jack London Square waterfront, which is just a short walk from downtown Oakland.

Or, as Oakland entrepreneur Chris Pastena told the Tribune:

"People get it about Oakland, they have a passion about Oakland. They see they can have a great lifestyle in Oakland. So people are taking a risk on that growth in the downtown and in Oakland because of that passion."


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