SF’s economic comeback is sustainable

The late Bill Walsh, one of the most revered Bay Area sports luminaries who built the 49ers into one of the greatest franchises in NFL history, authored a book entitled, “The Score Takes Care of Itself.”

Although Walsh's book outlines the requirements of successful leadership that can be applied in all professions, the phrase can also help explain why, while states around the nation are emphatically boasting about their successes luring businesses to relocate, California is quietly leading the nation's economic recovery — and it's the Bay Area leading California's economic rebound.

California job growth has eclipsed the national average over the last year and, according to Chamber of Commerce foundation partner the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, San Francisco's job growth ranks second in the nation from 2012 to 2013.

Updated employment numbers demonstrate that the Bay Area job market is among the most robust in the nation — upward revisions characterized by Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy as “a blowout number for the Bay Area job market.”

Walsh provides many insights in his book, including the importance of focusing on process — which produces results. As we seek to uncover how California and the Bay Area are generating these strong economic indicators, much can be attributed to sound processes leading to these encouraging results.

While there's no denying the role that the rising stock market, pickup in housing prices and sales play in California's improving economy, Gov. Jerry Brown's fiscal leadership cannot be overstated.

Indeed, under the governor's watch this last fiscal year, California achieved something which had eluded it for nearly a decade: a multibillion-dollar surplus. But, it's Brown's success guiding the state's 2014-15 budgetary process, which resulted in an overwhelmingly approved budget that is prudent, pays down California's debt while also investing billions into K-12 education, that provides the most encouraging signal that the state is well on its way to a new era of economic growth.

The Bay Area, of course, reaps substantial economic benefits from its position as the center of technology in America. As the Chamber of Commerce recently noted, high-tech jobs have a significant multiplier effect — creating five additional nontech jobs for every tech industry job created, which results in thousands of more jobs in other sectors.

These are impressive results, but it's important that we recognize the processes that led to these positive numbers, including Mayor Ed Lee's 17-point jobs plan and his leadership spurring economic activity throughout the Bay Area that enabled job growth across virtually every job category in San Francisco over the last three years — raising income and creating wealth.

While other locales spend time and resources crowing about their intermittent wins moving jobs from one state to another, make no mistake: San Francisco's economic comeback is real and sustainable, creating tens of thousands of new jobs and cutting unemployment in half while producing a tax base that has allowed The City to restore vital resources.

Coach Walsh might remind us that continued success is contingent upon our ability to stay committed to our game plan, but, if we do this, there is no limit to what the Bay Area can achieve.

Bob Linscheid is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.


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