The Business Development Division constantly works to retain and grow diverse businesses to San Francisco and to support the companies who have already chosen our City for their enterprises.
Innovation Capital of the World
San Francisco’s vibrant business environment supports more than 95,000 businesses and boasts a population that is one of the most intelligent, innovative and ethnically diverse in the world—factors which continue to contribute to a highly motivated, productive workforce. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) understands that a robust business community enriches the community as a whole. That’s why OEWD is dedicated to helping to ensure the ongoing success of local businesses.
OEWD actively supports existing businesses who have started in our city. The Business Development Division supports businesses by providing specialized assistance for a number of key industries and developing programs that help businesses thrive.
Doing business in San Francisco:
Through the SFAsia Initiative, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) has continued to build partnerships and engage in discussions related to doing business in San Francisco. Among the seven events hosted or co-hosted, SFAsia partnered with the US-ASEAN Business Council to host a one-day conference with 400 attendees representing government, businesses and academia to promote bilateral trade and business opportunities with the ASEAN Economic Community. During the conference, Mayor Lee welcomed the attendees and promoted San Francisco’s commitment to supporting increased business exchange between San Francisco and Asia. OEWD also hosted SFAsia’s Advisory Council meeting to hear from its members about the opportunities San Francisco should pursue in Asia. The Advisory Council, which recently grew from 10 members to 17 members, has helped OEWD’s SFAsia program by directing leads to the program and fostering connections to SFAsia and San Francisco. The Advisory Council directed SFAsia to keep pushing its concierge approach to assist businesses looking to enter the San Francisco market and to focus on matured companies.
In its two years, SFAsia has helped 24 companies land in San Francisco, leading to 162 direct jobs. SFAsia is looking to increase this number in Fiscal Year 2016-17 by continuing to do outreach in ASEAN countries and increase fundraising in order to expand the services offered.
Established in 2008, ChinaSF’s mission is job creation in San Francisco, accomplished through the recruitment and retention of inbound investment and companies to San Francisco. OEWD’s ChinaSF program, the oldest of the three international programs, expanded its operations with the opening of a third office in Shenzhen, China. This office covers Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. ChinaSF also successfully co-hosted the 1st Annual ContinuumSF Innovation and Credit Conference in January 2016, which brought companies such as Indiegogo, Lyft and LinkedIn to speak to over 500 business executives and government officials from the United States and China to discuss ways to increase collaboration between the two countries.
ChinaSF launched several initiatives and partnerships in 2016 to attract target sectors in China and assist Chinese companies looking to enter the United States understand the marketplace. One initiative, ChinaSF Builds provides a platform for Chinese and U.S. companies to work together on new development projects in San Francisco, including new housing, offices, factories, and infrastructure. ChinaSF Builds has worked over the past year to recruit not just companies to San Francisco, but also dollars to invest in the economy. In Fiscal Year 2015-16, ChinaSF recruited investments of more than $225 million. Through this program, investments have been directed towards a range of development projects such as Oceanwide Center at 50 First Street and residential projects that have helped to create 200 below market units. Another initiative is Tech Sandbox in Beijing, which provides tech companies that are looking to establish a presence in San Francisco with business support and relocation services. Through this initiative, ChinaSF has strengthened its partnership with Greenpark, a tech association in Beijing.
San Francisco has Sister City relationships with 18 partner cities around the world. Sister City relationships in the United States began under President Eisenhower as a means to foster peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the globe. These relationships bring people of different cultures together to celebrate and appreciate their differences and create cultural, educational, and informational and trade exchanges.
As part of this initiative, OEWD joined Mayor Lee on a visit to Israel through the San Francisco-Haifa Sister City Committee. During this friendship mission, Mayor Lee met innovative startup entrepreneurs, government and cultural leaders. As a result of the trip, both cities agreed to institute a public art exchange that will appear at each local port in the near future. In addition to visiting Haifa, Mayor Lee visited Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, where he met with the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, former President Shimon Peres and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. The delegation also visited Rambam Hospital to see new innovations in life-saving practices and Yemin Orde Youth Village, which provides for hundreds of at-risk and immigrant youth from around the world.
Understanding the importance of Latin America, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development in partnership with the San Francisco Center for Economic Development coordinated Mayor Lee’s 2016 economic development mission to Panama and Brazil. The goal of the mission was to build partnerships with government leaders, strengthen relationships with the Latin American business community and encourage investments in San Francisco. As part of this trip, Mayor Lee visited Panama City in Panama and São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and met with more than 18 businesses in various industries and trade groups to foster and build the case for why businesses in this region should explore U.S. expansion in San Francisco. Mayor Lee also spoke at the Relate Live conference hosted by Zendesk in São Paolo, toured the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, visited the Panama Canal Expansion project in Panama City, and met with business representatives in finance, technology, hospitality, consumer products and emergency management. The trade mission highlights the importance of Brazil as potential trading partner, along with Mexico and Argentina. The trade mission has generated interest among Brazil’s business community in San Francisco. Many businesses and groups that the delegation met on the trip have visited San Francisco or have signaled an intent to visit in the near future.
Life Sciences & Health Care
Nightlife and Entertainment
Marketing Outreach Campaign for Regional Late-Night and Early Morning Bus Network
San Francisco’s nighttime economy includes diverse industries such as nightlife, hotels, hospitals, manufacturing and distribution, and many others. A significant number of workers in these sectors are low-to-moderate income individuals who rely on public transportation to get to and from their jobs. On an average weeknight, an estimated 250,000 late-night and early-morning trips are made to, from, and within San Francisco.
In order to address low public awareness of existing all-night bus service, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and Supervisor Scott Wiener along with regional transportation agencies launched a new regional multilingual marketing outreach campaign for the AllNighter, the late-night and early-morning bus network that serves San Francisco, the East Bay, and Peninsula. The system, which is operated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), AC Transit, SamTrans, and Golden Gate Transit, runs from midnight to 5AM and consists of over 20 bus routes, with stops at most BART and Caltrain stations.
The first phase of the multilingual AllNighter outreach campaign features cable television, social media, bus, BART and Muni station advertisements. Partnerships with community organizations will also be used to broaden the outreach effort. The project will run through the summer of 2017.
OEWD led the implementation of this project, working closely with SFMTA, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), AC Transit, Samtrans, and Golden Gate Transit and other members of the San Francisco Late Night Transportation Working Group to develop the campaign. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) also supported the initiative by granting $200,000, which will be used to sustain the campaign.
Business Tax Change
In November of 2012, San Francisco voters approved Proposition E, a Gross Receipts Tax and Business Registration Fee Ordinance. Passing with 70% of the vote in a high voter turnout election, Proposition E was widely supported by a broad base of local businesses.
Despite the high support for the measure from the business community, the City’s past experience with tax compliance indicated that many business owners are often unaware or unclear of how legislative changes will impact their businesses. When it comes to tax compliance, most businesses in San Francisco do not have support and staff assigned to monitor newly enacted tax law changes. Small businesses typically do not engage a tax professional to assist them with their tax preparation. In many cases, an owner, office manager, or a family member will prepare and file taxes for the business—not an accountant, Certified Public Accountant, or other tax professional.
It was necessary to launch an awareness campaign to inform business owners about the changes to the City’s business tax structure. Under the direction of the Mayor’s Office, the process to begin developing a communications strategy was implemented by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), the Office of Small Business (OSB), and the Treasurer and Tax Collector.
Our message was simple, “Your Business Tax is Changing.” The outreach plan was heavily frontloaded in order to prepare businesses for the increase in their Business Registration Renewal.
For Fiscal Year 2015/2016 the outreach team shifted the message to. “Your Business Taxes are Changing, Get Educated.” The outreach focused on educating business about the online form, and providing good customer service.
- The outreach team met with ten of the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors, and provided staff with monthly updates and collateral material for their newsletters
- OEWD Staff worked in the Tax Payer Assistance Office to create stronger customer service systems and strategies
- Created a stronger and more robust Knowledge Base for 311, which led to a reduction in Service Requests to the Treasurer and Tax Collector
- Partnered with the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, and had community ambassadors perform outreach in their respective merchant corridors, most notably the corridors the ambassadors reached were south of market
- Presented to eight merchant groups/associations
- Hosted 10 Gross Receipts Tax Seminars at the Main Library
- The seminars were very different – one was with a power point and an overview of the ordinance, the others were using the app live with real life businesses
- Granicus is a type of video that allows you to open up link with in the video, so if you are talking about your NAICS code, you can click on the link and look-up you link, and since all video’s are on line, Granicus calls out a level of interaction.
- There was an initial presentation in 2014/2015 fiscal year and then what was presented at the 2015/2016 year were updates.
- Presented at the Central Market Payroll Expo
- Presented at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council
- Presented at the State Board of Equalizations Small Business Seminar
- Partnered with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for a District Eight and District Three Small Business seminar
- Hosted three updates to the Business Tax Advisory group
- Designed a multi-lingual letter which was mailed to all 95,000 registered businesses, preparing for the Gross Receipts filing and the use of a new PIN
- Designed a magnet with all of the important business tax dates
- Designed a multi-lingual “trading card” which directed businesses to our website
- Marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade
- Partnered with two City Hall Interns to create and implement a stronger outreach strategy for the Chinese American community and the Pilipino American community
- Executed a multi-lingual outreach campaign in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in which we had 45 signs on the exterior of busses and 500 internal signs
- Continued to update and add content to the sfbiztax.org website, which led to 16,500 visitors, with the peak during February
- Posted weekly on Townsqured, a social media platform for businesses only, reaching over 30,000 businesses
- Increased the use of social media on both Twitter and Facebook
- Purchased a multi-lingual, multi-level targeted media campaign for both online and traditional print
- Facilitated four focus groups to solicit feedback on the Gross Receipts on-line form
At the conclusion of the February Gross receipts Deadline:
- 16,782 Businesses had filed
- 3,239 were Lesser of Residential Real Estate
- 76 were combined groups (large corporations)
- 438 requested an extension
- 733 filed post the march 2 deadline
On May 26, 27, and 31, 2016, we hosted smaller versions of the Business Registration Renewal Day, and in total for the four days we served 1,100 businesses.
Opening, expanding or relocating a business in a world-class destination is an exciting, but complex undertaking. The Business Development Division helps businesses navigate through this process, and offers several resources to assist your business in finding a location that is right for you.