Tag Archives: Berkeley Chamber of Commerce

Berkeley votes to phase in minimum wage increases

Small business owners who opposed raising the minimum wage in Berkeley attended the special City Council meeting Nov. 10. Photo: Lisa Tsering
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The Berkeley City Council approved revisions to its contentious minimum wage ordinance late in the evening of Nov. 10 after a rancorous special meeting at Longfellow Middle School.

“Si se puede! Stand up! Fight back!” shouted around two dozen protesters demanding a higher minimum wage. Many of the protesters were organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, and had marched for higher wages in Sacramento earlier in the day and rallied in Oakland in the afternoon.

The new proposal will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 for larger businesses employing more than 55 full time workers, and will allow smaller businesses to phase in “tiered” increases, reaching $15 in 2020. … Continue reading »

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Chamber names three new Visionary Award winners

Vivienne Ming (left), Polly Armstrong, Judy Appel and Nancy Skinner at the Visionary Awards. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce named neuroscientist Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos, biochemist Jill Fuss, founder of CinderBio, and computer game pioneer Will Wright, founder of Stupid Fun Club, winners of this year’s Visionary Awards.

“Running a business is hard. Running a business in Berkeley can be even harder at times,” said Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. She said the awards recognized individuals with the “imagination and persistence” to innovate in Berkeley.

The three winners come from dramatically different fields. Ming’s Socos combines machine learning and cognitive neuroscience to maximize students’ life outcomes (Ming will also be speaking at the Berkeleyside-organized Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Oct. 16). Fuss’ CinderBio uses extreme microbes — that survive in volcanic waters — to make a new class of ultra-stable enzyme formulations for applications like biofuels, industrial cleaning, paper manufacture and textile finishing. Wright, who created SimCity and The Sims, established Stupid Fun Club as a creative think-tank for experiments with robots and software.  … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley City Council to consider $19 minimum wage

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held a meeting for local businesses regarding the minimum wage increase proposal from the Labor Commission. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider a new proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage to $19 by 2020.

The proposal, from the city’s Labor Commission, would increase and extend the current ordinance, which is set to boost the minimum wage to $12.53 by October 2016.

The Labor Commission’s proposal suggests bumping up the 2016 increase to $13, followed by an increase to $14.50 in October 2017, $16 in 2018, $17.50 in 2019 and $19 in 2020.

In its report to council, the commission says the adjustments will ensure that the city’s minimum wage ordinance “is successful in promoting and protecting the rights and the individual self-reliance of working people in Berkeley by raising the minimum wage to a living wage, adding an annual cost of living adjustment, and granting adequate paid sick leave to all workers.”

Monday afternoon, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held an information session for local businesses to learn about the proposal and discuss how to make sure their voices are heard. About 30 people attended the meeting downtown at the Chamber’s headquarters on University Avenue.

According to a chart passed out at Monday’s meeting, the proposed rate increase would put Berkeley far ahead of the pack in terms of other cities on track to increase the minimum wage over the next five years. … Continue reading »

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Opening today: Tupper & Reed, a classic cocktail bar

Tupper & Reed opens tonight in Downtown Berkeley. Photo: Brian Sheehy
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The East Bay is becoming quite the drinking destination. With West Berkeley’s booming craft beer scene and Uptown Oakland’s growing nightlife scene, it feels like we are quickly catching up with San Francisco. More proof if it were needed: downtown Berkeley is now home to Tupper & Reed, the latest project from SF’s Future Bars team.

The long-awaited bar opens its doors tonight at 6 p.m. at 2271 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft). Tupper & Reed is modeled on the Future Bars‘ SF flagship, Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy-style bar. It will boast a menu of 70 cocktails and hundreds of spirits, said co-owner Brian Sheehy, featuring classic drinks, twists on those classics and a number of cocktails created exclusively for the bar. In addition, Sheehy said, it will serve a small selection of beer and wine for “people who insist on not drinking cocktails.” … Continue reading »

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Le Bateau Ivre hopes loan will kickstart revival

Le Bateau Ivre is still struggling, despite raising about $13,000 from an Indiegogo campaign. Photo: Naomi Nishihara
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By Naomi Nishihara

Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) a French restaurant, bar and coffeehouse in an 1898 home on Telegraph Avenue, has witnessed decades of first dates since it opened in 1972. But after the recession, its co-founder’s death and dwindling foot traffic, the fabled Berkeley hangout is losing money and struggling to survive in a changing landscape.

Owner Arlene Giordano, who founded the restaurant 43 years ago with her late husband, Thomas Cooper, launched an Indiegogo campaign in September, hoping to crowd fund $60,000 to pay bills, replace kitchen appliances and get the business back on its feet. But the campaign, which ended in November, raised less than one-quarter of her target. Now Giordano is seeking a small business loan from the city to keep her restaurant alive. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

"The Magic Shoes," about an Iranian boy and his Air Jordans, is one of several USC student films showing this weekend at the Berkeley Video & Film Festival. Berkeley High students can see the student films for free. Photo courtesy of BVFF
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FILM FESTIVAL The Berkeley Video & Film Festival is a two-weekend feast of independent film, and it starts tonight, Oct. 30. Each year the East Bay Media Center narrows down(but not by much!) more than 100 submissions to a spectacular and international selection of shorts, animations, documentaries, and feature films. From a global dance documentary to animated sexual organs, there’s something for everyone. It all starts with a Student Film Marathon this weekend, and Berkeley High students get in free with ID. Otherwise, tickets for each film cost $10, or $5 for students and seniors, and they’re available at the door or by calling (510) 843-3699. A $25 pass gets you access to the whole festival. All films are screened at 1939 Addison Street. … Continue reading »

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New 8-story Berkeley building wins easy approval

Stonefire. Image: Johnson Lyman Architects
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Berkeley’s zoning board unanimously approved a new 8-story building on University Avenue, at Milvia Street, on Thursday night.

StoneFire is set to take the place of the Firestone tire shop at 1974 University Ave..

No one spoke against the project in the relatively short hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday. It was the project’s first official review by the board, after a preview session in April. The project also received unanimous support from the city’s Design Review Committee after three sessions with that panel in 2013 and 2014.

Read more about development in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage.

Developer William Schrader Jr., of Alamo-based The Austin Group, told the zoning board the project has been in the works for a couple of years, and that he has met extensively with the city, neighbors and stakeholders to make sure they’re on board with his plans.  … Continue reading »

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Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXXVIII

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CARAVAGGIO We brought you news in August that a new Italian gelateria was opening in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Well it’s here: Caravaggio (pictured above), at 1797 Shattuck Ave. (just north of Delaware), is having its soft opening Saturday, Nov. 16, after also participating in A Taste of North Berkeley earlier this week. Co-owner Emiliano Cecchetti said there will be eight flavors to begin with, but expect sorbet and vegan options down the line. The ice cream is made to exacting standards in authentic Italian style and uses all natural ingredients. Look out for a fuller story on Caravaggio from us next week. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley Chamber awards first Visionary awards

PolyPlus Battery co-founder Steven Visco. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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Scientist Steven Visco and developer Patrick Kennedy received the inaugural Visionary Awards from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce on Monday night in a casual ceremony at the startup accelerator Skydeck in downtown Berkeley.

Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong said the awards were designed for “those individuals with both the imagination and persistence to innovate in the City of Berkeley. Our town has a long history of activism and is proud of its heritage. However, our colorful history has also fostered a cautious if not skeptical view of change and the role that local businesses play in the economic health of the city.” … Continue reading »

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Redistricting meeting sheds light on past process

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
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A small group of community members came together earlier this week at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to learn how the city’s redistricting process, underway for the past two years, will impact the city going forward.

Redistricting takes place in Berkeley every 10 years, when U.S. Census data are released, to ensure that districts have roughly equal populations.

Since at least 2000, students and others who live around the UC Berkeley campus have been trying to establish a student-majority district with the aim of giving students a larger voice and role in city decisions. In 2000, a proposal that essentially created a ring around campus was rejected by the city attorney because it didn’t comply with the city charter’s rules for redistricting. Last fall, Berkeley voters passed Measure R to change the way redistricting takes place. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley considers city-wide minimum wage hike

Some Berkeley business owners said last week, at an info session hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, that a new minimum wage would pose challenges and have unintended consequences. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A mayor’s office request to set Berkeley’s minimum wage more than $2 above than the state-mandated $8 per hour will be discussed at two city meetings this week.

The proposed policy shift has some local business owners concerned about whether they can afford the change, and how it might affect the city’s economy. Proponents of similar measures say they increase income equality and provide the people who earn the least with more room for discretionary spending. … Continue reading »

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Crush: East Bay wine, food fest in Berkeley for 17th year

Crush 2011-2
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Crush, the annual East Bay wine and food festival, takes place this Sunday, Nov. 11, and, incredibly, the gourmet get-together is marking its 17th year in Berkeley.

OFFER: Berkeleyside has four Crush tickets (worth $50 each) to give away to our readers! Simply scoot on over to our brand new NOSH Facebook page (and learn about our incredibly exciting imminent food launch), then “Like” us there and confirm you have done so in an email to nosh@berkeleyside.com (or Facebook message us at NOSH). We will make sure the winners, drawn from a hat, are notified and your  tickets will be waiting for you at the door at Crush.

This year promises to offer the same wide variety of tasting options, be it ultra locavore sips from Berkeley establishments such as Pyramid Alehouse, Takara Sake, or wineries Urbano Cellars and Donkey & Goat — all of them located in what Berkeleyside likes to refer to as the city’s “drinks district” — or pours from many equally well-regarded vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. … Continue reading »

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Local business

DeClercq stepping down as joint CEO of Berkeley Chamber

John Declercq photo(1)
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John DeClercq will step down as joint-CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce at the end of this month after 18 months in the job. Polly Armstrong, with whom he shares leadership responsibilities, will continue to head up the local business organization solo, most likely on a part-time basis.

DeClercq is returning to the commercial real estate field after being approached about a job by a company that owns a portfolio of low-income housing across the country. He says the Chamber is now on a steady footing and that, for financial reasons, he needs to take up a full-time job.

DeClercq was appointed as joint-CEO with Armstrong in January 2011 and they have brought some consistency to the organization. The previous three years saw four CEOs arrive and depart in quick succession.

“There were rough waters before Polly and I took over and crafted a job that was good for both of us,” he says, adding that the past 18 months have been about stabilization. The Chamber’s membership is now approaching 400, he says, and he feels optimistic about the future for businesses in Berkeley. “The downtown P-Bid passed and we’re excited that the West Berkeley Project and civil sidewalks are both on the November ballot,” he says. … Continue reading »

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