Help Sustain Hyperlocal News in E’ville. Vote for The E’ville Eye in the Mission Main Street Grants Program

Published On June 12, 2015 | By Rob Arias | Community, In the Neighborhood

The E’ville Eye started as a community passion project and spawned from the need for better communication & connectivity in our town. Nearly four years and over 400 posts later, we’ve reached over 5,000 subscribers and surpassed 1,000 Facebook followers. We continue to advocate for our community and we’re not afraid to share our opinions. Our traffic has more than doubled every year of our existence and we’ve even been honored as “The Best Neighborhood Blog in The East Bay” by East Bay Express. Now we’re looking at taking this “to the next level”.

Our long-term goal is to make hyperlocal news in Emeryville sustainable and we want to grow beyond just the voice of a few people … but something that encompasses all residents. We want to create a long-term resource for residents to have an impact on the city in which they live. Please help us fulfill this by voting for us in the Chase Mission Main Street Grants program (Facebook Account needed). All it takes is a click. We need 250 votes by July 19th to qualify for the next step (bonus points if you share this with your network)!

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You can also contribute by making a reoccurring or one-time donation with your PayPal or Credit Card account:

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Our Grant Application:


1). Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.

I founded The E’ville Eye Community News after being robbed at gunpoint almost four years ago. I decided that the best thing I could do to prevent this from happening to others was create a community focused news site that spotlighted crime trends in our neighborhoods and create awareness and vigilance. When I realized that there was so little news available about our community, I started attending City Council Meetings and met individually with Councilmembers. I also met with members of the community and connected with neighborhood groups to better understand what was important to them.

Our products are covering local news, community advocacy, generating resident engagement and creating community pride. Our customers are the community, employees and local businesses. Prior to our existence, there was very little local media coverage. The competitive landscape consists of various social media groups and a few local opinion blogs. Nobody provides the breadth and variety of subject matter that we do. We’ve more than doubled our traffic every year of our existence to where we have over 5000 subscribers with a robust Social Network community. We’ve become not only the #1 blog in this span, but the #1 news site in Emeryville.

2). What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.

I left my stable corporate job doing Interactive Design six months ago to pursue freelance work and grow this “community passion project.” It’s been challenging, but rewarding. Every donation, thankful comment or email feeds my passion and gives me the validation that what I’m doing is important and needed within the Community. I wake up everyday not knowing whom I’m going to meet or what story might come my direction. Working from home has provided me the flexibility I need to cover breaking stories and meet members of the community on their schedule.

Probably my greatest achievement thus far is being named “The Best Neighborhood Blogger” last year by a prominent local publication (It even came with a photo of me and my “mascot” French Bulldog Fiona). For me it was a culmination of all my hard work and dedication. Other achievements include landing important exclusive interviews including Phil Bronstein and the Mayor of neighboring Berkeley.

Our biggest challenge is the viability of Hyperlocal news and communicating to readers that creating this content takes time & resources. I’m hopeful that new technology and emerging micropayments will be the solution to paying content creators like us and keeping it sustainable longterm.

3). How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.

Our business is the community and reporting what is happening strengthens it and helps create a hub that connect the many moving parts. Small Businesses, fledgling new businesses, public art, non-profits … we’ve covered them all. Promoting events through our free community calendar and social media channels keeps residents informed, engaged and educates new and prospective residents of our challenges and talking points.

With out meager revenue, we were able to sponsor and helped promote the annual open streets “Love our Neighborhood Day” that saw thousands turn out in our local community. We’ve also created an advocacy group for small businesses in the community to give them a political voice with our City Government. We encourage the growth of small business in our city by spotlighting them, providing vital exposure and an advertising platform to promote themselves and their initiatives. We also helped coordinated the National Night Out for our city, have a plan in the works for fundraising for a neighborhood dog park and a fledgling neighborhood association.

Everything contribution we get goes directly back onto the community.

4). What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.

Currently, we’re entirely funded by community donations and a small amount of ad revenue. I put every free moment I can into writing and promoting but I still can’t cover everything I want to or promote ourselves to those that might benefit from our reach. $100,000 would allow me to not only pay my current contributors to encourage their consistent coverage, but recruit others including a much coveted journalism student from nearby UC Berkeley. I’d also pursue an Ex’pression College Media student and even an Emery High Intern to contribute and help build their own careers in hyperlocal news.

$100,000 could perpetuate us for years, give us the time to grow and become sustainable and groom future hyperlocal contributors. In the last year we’ve gone from having a single sponsor … to more than 10 and we feel there’s more revenue to pursue if we had the time and resources. We’re also rolling out a series of Community-pride apparel that will hopefully contribute to our bottom-line. Organizing events and helping facilitate community groups is also on the radar. This capital infusion would make all this possible.

5). What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?

The City of Emeryville is only 1.1 square miles and 10,000 residents but is a major hub of the East Bay Area with a huge amount of growth potential over the next decade. The City is unique in that it draws an estimated 30,000 daytime population because of its large hospitality industry, retail destination and professional workforce. Our reach is growing, but we still have barely tapped into the city’s potential.

I often refer to the neighboring Berkeleyside news site as a blueprint we’d like to follow. They’ve become “indispensable” to their city and we hope to one day be referred to as this within ours. We’re now a registered LLC, have a small amount of consistent revenue and a very loyal following. We have the platform, we have the audience, now we just need consistent content creators to cover all the things that the community would like to read, grow our audience and pursue new revenue streams. We’re the number #1 news source in our city according to Google Search rankings but I still feel much more can be done to capture the entire audience of our region.

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

5 Responses to Help Sustain Hyperlocal News in E’ville. Vote for The E’ville Eye in the Mission Main Street Grants Program

  1. K says:

    Good luck with this. Maybe you will be able to afford hiring a real journalist. A writer without the conservative right wing agenda, that can properly use the English language.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks K. You know you’re doing something right when you piss people off and get your own following of RULE trolls.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right wing my butt. Rob’s just not a clueless nut job like the RULE crew. And by the way, whenever you want to criticize someone’s use of the English language, you might want to make sure that your sentence contains a verb. It gives you more credibility as an elite member of Grammar Team 6.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I tried to vote for you but it’s impossible to vote without signing up for a Facebook account. In other words, it’s a FB ploy to try to force people to register on FB. And i’s only going to cost them $100,000 to strong-arm people into signing up.

    • Rob says:

      Yeah, unfortunately, it’s one of the few ways of preventing people from gaming the system. Thanks for trying though!

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