Newsom proposes clean tech ‘campus’ 

Although a payroll tax exemption for "clean tech" companies passed in 2005 has attracted just over a dozen small businesses to San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom is hoping that the creation of a business "campus" in the southeast sector will be another incentive that will bring environmentally friendly companies to The City.

Newsom said he envisions building the campus in the areas surrounding the former Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Hunters Point Power Plant.

"The goal of the closure is to now begin reconciling the environmental justice associated with that polluting power plant, by converting the areas in and around the plant, by priority rezoning, for green tech businesses," Newsom said Wednesday.

Newsom presented his plan to a gathering of about 700 green technology entrepreneurs and investors Wednesday night.

"I plan to make the case to these companies of San Francisco’s desire to get these companies into The City," Newsom said.

In addition, a previous restriction on the payroll tax exemption — one that didn’t allow companies with more than 100 employees to participate — has been lifted, so more companies are expected to participate, according to city officials.

The payroll tax exemption for the 13 companies participating only adds up to about $100,000, said Jesse Blout, Newsom’s deputy chief of staff for economic and development affairs.

"These are small, up-and-coming companies," he said.

According to the Cleantech Venture Network, the organization sponsoring the gathering, in 2006 North American and European venture capital investment in clean technology totaled a record $3.6 billion for 2006, double the 2004 investment of $1.7 billion.

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