San Francisco - Economy

Economy

See also: List of companies based in San Francisco

Tourism, the city's largest private-sector employer, is the backbone of the San Francisco economy. Its frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. It is the city where Tony Bennett "left his heart," where the Birdman of Alcatraz spent many of his final years, and where Rice-a-Roni was said to be the favorite treat. San Francisco attracts the fourth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the U.S. and claims Pier 39 near Fisherman's Wharf as the third-most popular tourist attraction in the nation. More than 16 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2011, injecting $8.5 billion into the economy. With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is also among the top-ten North American destinations for conventions and conferences. In a Euromonitor International ranking of top city destinations, San Francisco was ranked the 33rd most visited city in the world out of 100 of the world's most visited cities.

The legacy of the California Gold Rush turned San Francisco into the principal banking and finance center of the West Coast in the early twentieth century. Montgomery Street in the Financial District became known as the "Wall Street of the West," home to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters, and the site of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. Bank of America, a pioneer in making banking services accessible to the middle class, was founded in San Francisco and in the 1960s, built the landmark modern skyscraper at 555 California Street for its corporate headquarters. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks and venture capital firms are based in or have regional headquarters in the city. With over 30 international financial institutions, seven Fortune 500 companies, and a large support infrastructure of professional services—including law, public relations, architecture and design—also with significant presence in the city, San Francisco is designated as one of eighteen Alpha World Cities.

Since the 1990s, San Francisco's economy has increasingly become tied to San Jose and Silicon Valley, its Bay Area neighbors to the south, sharing the need for highly educated workers with specialized skills. San Francisco became an epicenter of the Dot-Com bubble of the 1990s, and the subsequent Web 2.0 boom of the late 2000s. Many popular and prominent Internet companies and "start-ups" such as Craigslist, Twitter, Zynga, Salesforce.com, and the Wikimedia Foundation among others have established their head offices in San Francisco.

San Francisco has been positioning itself as a biotechnology and biomedical hub and research center. The Mission Bay neighborhood, site of a second campus of UCSF, fosters a budding industry and serves as headquarters of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the public agency funding stem cell research programs statewide. As of 2009, there were 1,800 full-time biochemists and biophysicists employed in San Francisco, with an annual mean wage of $92,620.

Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and self-employed firms make up 85% of city establishments as lately, it has been particularly popular with entrepreneurs establishing "start-up" companies. The number of San Franciscans employed by firms of more than 1,000 employees has fallen by half since 1977. The successful penetration of national big box and formula retail chains into the city has been made intentionally difficult by political and civic consensus. In an effort to buoy small privately owned businesses in San Francisco and preserve the unique retail personality of the city, the Small Business Commission supports a publicity campaign to keep a larger share of retail dollars in the local economy, and the Board of Supervisors has used the planning code to limit the neighborhoods in which formula retail establishments can set up shop, an effort affirmed by San Francisco voters.

The top employer in the city is the city government itself, employing 6.25% of the city's population, followed by University of California, San Francisco. Third, at 2.04%, is Wells Fargo, the largest private-sector employer.

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Famous quotes containing the word economy:

    Quidquid luce fuit tenebris agit: but also the other way around. What we experience in dreams, so long as we experience it frequently, is in the end just as much a part of the total economy of our soul as anything we “really” experience: because of it we are richer or poorer, are sensitive to one need more or less, and are eventually guided a little by our dream-habits in broad daylight and even in the most cheerful moments occupying our waking spirit.
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