Economic Development

Our goal: Lay the foundations of economic prosperity — for everyone.

SPUR's economic development agenda:

• Grow our own firms; don't try to lure them from other places.
• Make sure the high cost of locating in the Bay Area is worth it.
• Align workforce and economic development strategies.
• Strengthen our public education system.
• Maintain enough industrial land.

Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change
  • SPUR Report

    Economic Prosperity Strategy

    The Bay Area has one of the strongest economies in the world, but its benefits are not universally shared. How can we make sure the region’s rising economic tide lifts all boats? We identify a three-pronged approach to economic mobility for low- and moderate-wage workers.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    The Future of Work

    In the last three decades, employment has spread from city centers to car-centric, low-density office parks. How can we move more jobs to places served by transit? SPUR looks at how to make this shift while strengthening innovation, job growth and the prosperity of the Bay Area.

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  • SPUR Report

    The Future of Downtown San Francisco

    To achieve a low-carbon future, Bay Area residents need to be able to commute to work without a car. Our best strategy is to channel more employment into existing centers, particularly transit-rich downtown San Francisco. SPUR proposes a sustainable plan for transit-oriented job growth in the Bay Area.

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  • SPUR Report

    The Future of Downtown San Jose

    Downtown San Jose is the densest, most walkable, most transit-oriented place in the South Bay. It’s now poised to benefit from the growing trend toward working and living in urban centers. But downtown needs more people. SPUR identifies six strategies for a more successful and active downtown.

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  • SPUR Report

    A Downtown for Everyone

    Downtown Oakland is enjoying a renaissance, but the future is not guaranteed. An economic boom could stall before it gets going — or take off in a way that harms Oakland’s character, culture and diversity. We propose five big ideas for how downtown Oakland can grow while providing benefits to all.

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  • SPUR Report

    Organizing for Economic Growth

    San Francisco faces a major question about how to organize and pay for economic development work. SPUR explores what the city’s model should be for carrying out business formation, retention and attraction.

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  • Find more of SPUR's economic development research

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Updates and Events

To Fix Central Market, Start With a Strategy

News October 26, 2011
What’s the best way to revitalize Central Market? There isn’t one way, but many — and they all need to be coordinated with one another. While this sounds like an answer that Yoda might offer, we hope that the folks at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OWED) don’t have to rely on the Force alone to help finalize the Central Market Economic Strategy. The strategy is full of good ideas — and all will need substantial political support in order to be realized.

Shanghai’s Regional Economy

Urbanist Article August 15, 2011
Shanghai is the pinnacle of Chinese economic development and a good reflection of where the entire country is headed if growth continues. What can the Bay Area learn from China's regional approach to economic planning?

Four Ways to Transform Mid-Market

Urbanist Article July 20, 2011
After many years of fits and starts , San Francisco's Mid-Market area is stirring with prospects for transformation. Projects about to begin, as well as those still in planning, will bring new vitality to our long-neglected civic concourse. The already-approved CityPlace project, a new 250,000-square-foot retail development, will extend the commercial vibrancy of the San Francisco Centre to the stretch of Market Street west of Fifth Street. At the other end of the Mid-Market area, Twitter will move next year to the San Francisco Mart Building between Ninth and 10th streets. The relocation of Twitter is a huge coup, for both the city and the neighborhood, and is made possible by the city's recent agreement to exempt some employers in this zone from the municipal payroll tax. San Francisco has a unique business tax that requires companies with payrolls in excess of $250,000 to pay the city the equivalent of...

Behind the Scenes at SFO's New Terminal 2

News April 8, 2011
After lying dormant for a decade, San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 2 will be re-opening this month. Last week, 45 SPUR members had the unique opportunity to tour the final stages of construction on the $383 million renovation project. The 640,000 square foot building has 14 gates and will serve 5.5 million visitors per year. American Airlines, a tenant of the original terminal when it opened in 1954 , will be joined by Virgin Airlines in this revamped space. Here are a few highlights that stood out during the tour: Technology - Free wi-fi will be available throughout the terminal. - Flat-panel screens display arrival/departure information, a "visual paging" system, and informative notes, such as nearby pet-waste facilities and medic stations. Photo by Noah Christman Design - According to project manager Ray Quesada, the space has been designed to create a "club" like atmosphere. Travelers familiar with Virgin America's cabins...

SPUR to SF Supervisors: Don't Let the Next Google Get Away

News April 4, 2011
While the Bay Area is still climbing out of the great recession, we’re simultaneously experiencing the makings of a second dot-com boom. The Chronicle reports that tech jobs have climbed near to their year 2000 peak of 34,116. Silicon Valley is hiring again. And so is San Francisco. Between Twitter, Zynga, Yelp, Salesforce and others in social media, gaming and cloud computing, a growing sector of the economy is based right here in the city. We can’t predict in advance which companies will succeed: Google launched during the last boom, but so did Webvan, whose only traces today are the eponymous cup holders at AT&T Park. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging for all of us who promote economic development to see this kind of growth and investment in a niche well-suited to our city. The question is, will San Francisco be able to retain the successful companies as they grow and begin...

Bay Area Work Trends Lead to Increased Density

News March 30, 2011
Co-working studio [Photo by flickr user ahopsi] According to a piece in Sunday’s Chronicle, tech employment in San Francisco is approaching its dot-com peak : "The city had an estimated 32,180 tech jobs last year, compared with 34,116 in 2000, according to an analysis of state employment data by real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle. In 2004, the number of tech jobs had fallen to 18,210." The most interesting thing about the growth in jobs is that it hasn’t been accompanied by proportionate growth in office space; while dot-com companies occupied 325 square feet per worker in 2000, today they occupy about 175, and that number has been falling each year . The Chronicle speculates that this is driven by the relative frugality among today’s dot-coms, which is certainly possible. While there are lots of companies out there, venture capital firms have generally been making smaller investments during this cycle...

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