In Economics 101 we learn that the private sector creates wealth and government taxes it — and spends it judiciously, if public officials want to keep the business community thriving. To have a truly successful city, government must nourish the private sector to stimulate commercial activity and support a “civic experience” with widespread urban appeal.
An example of such a successful collaborative partnership is what we experienced when the San Francisco Giants brought the World Series championship home. That was a distant memory when downtown San Francisco vibrated with the enthusiasm of a million fans who cheered the Giants and, in effect, also celebrated the successful public-private partnership of a privately financed team playing on public land in a stadium built with private funds.
But even that great day could be eclipsed if the entire world focuses on the America’s Cup sailing match on San Francisco Bay. The return on that municipal-private investment could be more than 8,000 jobs and $10 plus million in tax revenue.
While San Francisco is often listed as the No. 1 preferred tourist destination in the world, we cannot stop investing in urban development and amenities that attract both business and tourists.
People don’t have to do business in San Francisco. There are options — across the Bay, down the Peninsula or in business-friendlier states. Companies lease space here, workers seek jobs, tourists enjoy our sites and people choose to live here because it’s pleasurable. Our downtown is a happening place — at lunchtime, at night and on the weekends you can feel the buzz along Market Street, the Ferry Building Plaza, the lively Embarcadero, SOMA’s parks and museums and the razzle-dazzle of Union Square.
So the next time you talk with a city official, ask him or her just what they’re doing to keep San Francisco growing. Are they supporting a new cruise ship terminal? A downtown sports arena? What are they doing to support companies and organizations that want to create jobs and lower our record unemployment rate? Or, are they planning new fees and taxes that discourage business formation here? Will they attempt to revive the ill-advised hotel tax hike? And you might also ask them if they ever took a course in school called Economics 101.
Marc Intermaggio is executive vice president of BOMA, San Francisco’s Building Owners and Managers Association.