SF mayor seeks change for city's business image

SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is reaching out to San Francisco-based businesses great and small to help change the city's business-unfriendly image.

SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is reaching out to San Francisco-based businesses great and small to help change the city's business-unfriendly image.

The mayor has begun meeting with CEOs to talk about their concerns with the city's business climate and his ideas to change things for the better.

"A lot of businesses within the city, and outside, see this as a difficult place to do business," said Dennis Conaghan, executive director of the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, which is working with the mayor on his CEO outreach.

The mayor's meetings are a step in the right direction because those CEOs see that Newsom is sincere about making San Francisco more business-friendly, Conaghan added.

When Wells Fargo recently opened a branch in the impoverished Bayview-Hunters Point section of the city, Newsom was on hand to praise the company for bringing a much-needed bank to the area and giving residents much-needed jobs.

"San Francisco is schizophrenic when it comes to business," said Sam Singer, president of PR firm Singer Associates. "It desires to have the prestige that companies can bring to the city. But there are also people here who equate capitalism with evil."

But with measures on the city's November ballot that ask voters to raise business taxes and prevent stadiums from selling naming rights, the image the city wants to project is very different from reality, adds Singer.

"There's now a changing mood that our own local businesses are feeling that there is someone paying attention to their needs," said Carol Piasente, VP of communications and events with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

The mayor's efforts might be paying off already. The Body Shop, Design Within Reach, and Gymboree have all announced they are moving to the city. And Virgin Atlantic Airways recently said it would establish its operational headquarters at San Francisco International Airport.

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