The new year brings new opportunities for San Francisco — opportunities to create jobs, grow the economy and accelerate fiscal resurgence. Only six days into 2011, our city is off to a good start. But if we are to achieve sustained economic recovery, we must continue to prioritize job creation and economic growth throughout the year ahead.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is optimistic about 2011. This weekend, four newly elected members of the Board of Supervisors will be sworn in to office. Supervisors Malia Cohen, Mark Farrell, Jane Kim and Scott Wiener will bring a more moderate and collegial balance to the board, ushering in new opportunities for job- and economy-boosting policies.
The new board will soon select an interim mayor to serve out Gavin Newsom’s term as he transitions to the post of lieutenant governor. The interim mayor will be able to address some of The City’s most pressing issues without facing the political pressures of a re-election campaign.
San Francisco’s opportunities go far beyond City Hall. On New Year’s Eve, San Francisco won the bid to host the 34th America’s Cup. This world-class series of sailing races is expected to create nearly 9,000 jobs and more than $1.2 billion in economic activity over the next three years. Also, the event will engage private capital to renovate Port of San Francisco property that would otherwise remain neglected and undeveloped. Salesforce.com’s decision to stay in its hometown and build a new campus in Mission Bay was another tremendous vote of confidence in The City and its work force.
And travel and tourism are on the rise, promising to benefit The City’s numerous hospitality businesses and their employees. The number of international passengers to San Francisco International Airport rose by 12 percent last year, and domestic travelers increased 6 percent. Also, the World Series-champion Giants will surely attract large numbers of Bay Area residents to The City this baseball season.
At the state level, Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged prompt action on California’s fiscal crisis, which continues to cripple businesses, residents and local governments.
The state’s emerging clean-energy economy will see a boost with the new cap-and-trade program approved by the California Air Resources Board. This market-driven system will help spur innovation and create jobs.
San Francisco is fortunate to have so many prospects for economic resurgence in 2011. Yet our sustained recovery remains uncertain.
Will the new Board of Supervisors help create the 95,000 jobs that have been lost in the past decade? Will major developments such as the new California Pacific Medical Center hospital complex be approved this year? Can the interim mayor tackle the $400 million budget deficit without negatively impacting jobs and our local economic recovery? Will business innovation continue to drive the economy forward?
If we are to answer “yes” to these questions, every business, civic and government leader must continue to prioritize job creation and economic growth. The chamber will work vigorously in 2011 to ensure that we do.
Steve Falk is the president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.