Despite the release last week of disparaging national employment numbers, we continue to see legislators in Washington DC focusing more on partisan battles than on the issues that directly affect our citizens' lives. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are still unemployed, and not enough is being done to fix it.
That's why local government is so important. While the federal government argues over a debt ceiling, it becomes the responsibility of local government to make the change necessary to positively impact people's lives each and every day.
Here in San Francisco, we must use every tool at our disposal to revitalize our local economy, to get people back to work who are unemployed, and to create better, more rewarding opportunities for those who are underemployed. Some people complain San Francisco is an expensive place to do business. I believe we have unique comparative advantages for attracting the smartest people, the best innovators, the fastest-growing businesses and the best jobs if we put our minds to removing barriers and promoting our strengths.
But we can't just create any jobs -- we need to create the right kind of jobs for San Francisco. Jobs that help working families, provide a living wage, create a greener city, and promote our common values of innovation, creativity and community service. And we need a city government that helps -- rather than hinders -- those who want to start or grow a business in San Francisco. Imagine a city that provides long term, sustainable economic opportunity for people at every skill level. Imagine a city that works for all of us.
Since announcing my candidacy in August, I've traveled throughout the city speaking with policy experts, merchants, small business owners, students, community leaders and concerned residents about job growth in San Francisco. Together, we've written a 17-point plan for growing our economy and creating new jobs.
Our plan is based on three principles:
- Making government work better so it doesn't hinder the ability of local businesses to succeed and grow. One of the first ways we can do this is by reforming our business tax. San Francisco would be well served to eliminate the payroll tax and replace it with a system that is fair to all businesses and that won't stifle job creation. San Francisco should convene a Tax Summit, with a hard deadline to put a specific measure on the November 2012 ballot that would reform our payroll tax to incentivize job creation and encourage growth.
- Investing in homegrown, local businesses that create the bulk of new jobs. We can have an immediate impact by increasing access to small business loans. San Francisco should expand its flourishing Small Business Revolving Loan Fund. The original $680,000 funding that was set aside in 2009 is already successfully financing 27 locally owned small businesses that have generated more than 50 full time jobs. Coupled with a comprehensive support program, these businesses have an 85% success rate -- significantly higher than the normal 15% success rate for small businesses.
- Promoting our comparative advantages -- our highly educated and creative workforce, our diversity and proximity to emerging markets, our concentration of top-notch schools, colleges, universities and R&D facilities and other strengths -- to attract the best workers, most innovative companies and new jobs. As we continue to diversify our economy, we cannot forget that tourism is one of San Francisco's largest revenue generators. Visitors from the Bay Area and beyond come to the city to participate in our arts and entertainment. Once here, they stay in our hotels, shop in our local stores, and drink and eat in our establishments. San Francisco should invest in our entertainment industry to help drive our tourist economy. We should create an entertainment zone in the South of Market area and encourage responsible venues, concerts, recording artists, and more to concentrate there. The city would dedicate resources to providing expansive public transportation into and out of this area. We would also implement an expedited permitting process for businesses in the entertainment zone that meet certain requirements and create local jobs.
Creating jobs must be job one for leaders in San Francisco. I look forward to continuing this dialogue about the best way to create jobs and economic opportunity in our city.