I came into office determined to create jobs and grow San Francisco’s economy by harnessing the creative talent and energy of the people here. That’s why a big part of my economic development agenda is focused on getting tech companies to start here, stay here and grow here, so they can innovate here in San Francisco.
As the innovation capital of the world, we are not just creating jobs and growing our economy, but tapping into the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to make government work better for our residents.
Innovation is the past and the future of our city; it is who we are, as well as being a part of our economic engine that is creating jobs. Today, there are more than 1,500 tech companies employing 30,000 employees. Our economy’s success will depend, in part, on our constant engagement with these technology companies to make sure they succeed.
In January, we announced a partnership with the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation, or sf.citi. Sf.citi will help us leverage the collective power of the tech sector to make government better and get our residents employed. We have already partnered with Code for America to launch the world’s first Civic Startup Accelerator, which will support entrepreneurs who launch companies to make city government more responsive, efficient and connected.
For residents and businesses, that means we will be working on ways to make our transit better, permitting faster, and, in general, just delivering government services better. We will do this by innovating our way to solutions, and the tech sector can, and is willing to, help us do that.
All of us recognize the power of innovation and new technology in changing how we communicate, interact and share information with each other. And because of that, and the value the tech sector brings to our economy, I was one of the first mayors to stand in solidarity with our tech community last month to oppose federal anti-piracy legislation that would have hindered the free flow of information — a cornerstone of our 21st-century economy. SOPA and PIPA were a direct threat to our innovation economy, and we stood together to make sure legislators went back to the drawing board to protect intellectual property against piracy while protecting thousands of jobs and our economy.
You will be hearing a lot about innovation, and it will remain at the top of my priority list. I hired the country’s first chief innovation officer, Jay Nath, who will introduce new ideas and approaches to make city government more transparent, efficient and focused on our customers — San Francisco residents, businesses and visitors. The chief innovation officer will make sure technology is a driver of change in city government and a job creator. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress!
Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco. The mayor's columns will appear in The San Francisco Examiner the second and fourth Thursday of each month.