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

San Jose Passes New Incentives for More Active Streets Downtown

News June 26, 2012
Many downtown areas have policies in place that restrict ground-floor storefronts for walk-in businesses such as retail, restaurants and entertainment. The idea is to encourage people to continue exploring (and hopefully shopping) on foot. But in an economic downturn, when retail stores may remain vacant for years, dark storefronts can create dead spaces of their own, further challenging the success of surviving retail tenants. With ground-floor retail vacancy rates hovering between 15 and 20 percent for several years in a row, San Jose has adopted a temporary policy change allowing non-retail uses such as banks and business support services to occupy certain ground floor spaces without a special use permit — an investment of time and money that the city says has deterred several companies from locating downtown. The city also argues that ground-floor space occupied during part of the day is better than ground-floor space vacant all day. In...

SF Works to Reform Its Business Tax

News April 24, 2012
For the last decade, businesses in San Francisco have been adamant that the city’s payroll tax is holding back job growth. First, companies must pay the tax when they reach $250,000 in payroll, which discourages new hiring. Second, they must pay it when employees exercise their stock options — a strong incentive for any company considering an IPO to leave the city. SPUR, along with much of the business community, has argued that we should restructure the city’s tax system to remove these disincentives to hiring. Following payroll tax exemptions in 2011 for stock compensation and for businesses locating in the Mid-Market neighborhood, the call for payroll tax reform has sounded again. The city is finally responding, but will this effort lead to real reform? City Controller Ben Rosenfield and Chief Economist Ted Egan have for the last three months been hard at work designing a replacement for San Francisco’s...

Salesforce Exits Mission Bay: What It Means for SF

News March 15, 2012
On February 28, Salesforce announced its was suspending plans to build a 2-million-square-foot campus on the 14 acres it had acquired in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Citing that it has grown faster than expected, the company will instead lease existing space two miles north, near Market Street in San Francisco’s Central Business District.

Life After Redevelopment

News January 24, 2012
On December 20, the California Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s elimination of redevelopment agencies. Each city now needs to figure out how to do what has been traditionally been done with redevelopment funds. What does this surprising turn of events mean for the urbanist agenda in California?

The Urban Future of Work

SPUR Report January 9, 2012
As the Bay Area’s economy changes, many firms are finding they need the vibrancy and density of an urban-style environment in order to collaborate, innovate and stay competitive. There is a strong link between density and job growth. In fact, we believe that locating jobs closer to transit — and closer to one another — will be key to the Bay Area’s long-term economic growth.

The Not-So-Corporate Campus

Urbanist Article January 7, 2012
Traditionally, we think of the workplace as the office: an interior space filled with desks and conference rooms. But a growing number of Bay Area companies are focusing on the context — the spaces outside and in between the buildings. The new workplace is wherever and whatever the workforce experiences.

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