As we start the new year, San Francisco appears united to take on jobs and the economy.
The lingering recession paved the way for a renewed focus on employment and economic development in the past year. Alliances between business and labor strengthened through projects at Treasure Island and Parkmerced. A collaborative new approach to policymaking emerged with pension reform. The stars are now aligned, and San Francisco is poised to create significant economic recovery in the year ahead.
Like most cities, San Francisco’s progress on economy-boosting initiatives often starts — and stops — at City Hall. Thankfully, Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors seem committed to creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
According to the 2011 year-end Paychecks & Pink Slips Scorecard that the Chamber of Commerce released earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of jobs more than 75 percent of the time in the past year.
Individual scores of even the lowest-scoring supervisors improved. Overall, the chamber gave the board a year-end ranking of 82 percent — up from 60 percent in 2010 — on its actions to spur employment, stimulate the economy and improve government efficiency.
Unlike many other cities, San Francisco’s business community and pro-growth labor unions often work together to advance key projects and policies. These ties were strengthened in the past year when six local business organizations, 12 labor unions and several community groups came together through the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth to support job-boosting projects at Treasure Island and Parkmerced.
These collaborative efforts not only helped create nearly 40,000 jobs for San Francisco, they helped set the stage for broader and deeper collaboration on one of The City’s most significant issues: pension reform.
Led by Lee, the Yes on C Pension Reform campaign from the November 2011 election solidified the collaborative approach to policymaking that will carry on in 2012. Organized by the late Warren Hellman and co-chaired by the chamber and the San Francisco Labor Council, the Yes on C campaign brought together government, business and labor to discuss, compromise and advance much-needed pension and health benefit reform, which is now helping The City save more than $1 billion over 10 years.
2012 will not be without its challenges. San Francisco’s unemployment rate, while declining, is unacceptable at 7.8 percent. Federal and state budget cuts will continue to impact local services. And November’s presidential election will include a slew of California tax measures. Simultaneously, San Francisco will renegotiate labor agreements with nearly every city union and attempt to remake its business tax system.
As we prepare to face these challenges, the chamber remains focused on jobs and committed to working collaboratively with our partners to grow our economy and put people back to work in 2012.
Steve Falk is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.