U.S. Vice President and Oakland native Kamala Harris made her first visit to the city Monday since taking office in January.

Harris was greeted on the tarmac at Oakland International Airport by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-CA, and state Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.

Harris was in Oakland to talk about small businesses and water infrastructure while touting the White House’s American Jobs Plan, which will invest $111 billion in water infrastructure nationwide and create union jobs to provide Americans with clean water, according to Harris and the White House.

After touring the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s San Leandro Water Treatment Plant, Harris said in a tweet, “Delivering clean drinking water to Oakland takes state-of-the-art infrastructure and highly-skilled workers.”

“We support investments in pipes and people. When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in the local community and regional economy. These investments last for generations and protect public health.”

EBMUD statement

“Thank you @VP Harris for visiting @EBMUD’s water treatment plant today,” EBMUD officials said on Twitter.

“We support investments in pipes and people,” EBMUD officials said. “When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in the local community and regional economy. These investments last for generations and protect public health.”

In a separate tweet, Harris said, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Today I met with Reign Free (founder & CEO of Red Door Catering), to discuss how community lenders helped her launch her business, and how our administration continues to help all small businesses access capital.”

Lee, Padilla and Kounalakis accompanied Harris to Red Door Catering at 2925 Adeline St. in Oakland.

The leaders discussed how the pandemic has affected small businesses. They also discussed the importance of technical and financial support from community development financial institutions, private financial institutions that help less fortunate people join the mainstream economy.

Two community development financial institutions, Action Opportunity Fund and ICA, helped Free to launch Red Door Catering.

Lee said she was honored to welcome Harris back to Oakland and Berkeley, where Harris spent part of her childhood.

“I had tears in my eyes watching Air Force 2 land at the airport in Oakland,” Lee said in a statement. “She (Harris) brings us hope and shows us the American dream is real.

“It is so inspiring for young people in this community, and frankly for everyone else here, to see her in the White House helping lead our country through this very difficult time.”

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.