City’s tech sector still going strong

Despite a crippling recession, San Francisco continues to attract high-tech jobs, companies and venture-capital dollars.

Since 2003, The City has doubled the number of high-tech computer jobs, from 8,000 to more than 16,000, according to the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, which works to promote economic and business development in The City. In addition, city economists estimate there are now 2,750 jobs in the life-sciences industry, up from 500 in 2004.

Venture-capital dollars continued to pour into San Francisco’s innovation economy amid the nation’s historic recession. In the first quarter of 2010, more than $260 million went toward the software and computer industry across the Bay Area, while biotech scored $190 million, both the highest figures in the country, according to the Economic Development Center.

And in the past year, San Francisco has become home to some major biotech and clean-tech companies, most recently Bayer, which last month opened offices in the Mission Bay neighborhood.

“I’m not surprised,” said Rob Black, vice president for public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “I think the effort that The City has put in fostering and creating one of the most dynamic bioscience hubs in the country, if not the world, in the Mission Bay has been a large part of this success.”

Despite San Francisco’s unemployment rate still being above 9 percent, The City has continued to attract high-tech jobs and companies in part because of its biotech payroll tax exemption, which was meant to lure more companies here. A December report from the city controller showed that the tax break helped fuel growth in that industry, encouraging city supervisors to extend the tax exemption.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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