Economy

San Francisco is one of the principal financial centers on the West Coast. You’ll find corporate headquarters, regional centers, and multinational banks in the Financial District. It got its financial start with the Gold Rush; Wells Fargo and Bank of California were both started with gold fild proceeds. Gold also fueled a lot of entrepreneurs, Levi Strauss and Domingo Ghiradelli, for example. Other names you probably know as well.

Of course, you know those names because they made it big. But the entrepreneurial spirit that drove those folks is still alive and well. In fact, companies with 10 or fewer employees make up 85% of the businesses in the city. And don’t think these are all “Mom and Pop” shops (though there are a lot of those.) San Francisco has made a concerted effort to ally itself financially with Silicon Valley, its tech-savvy neighbor to the south. So the start-up with three employees might be trying to broker deals with Tokyo for the latest in cell phone technology. Or, in keeping with the cosmopolitan nature of the city, they might also be negotiating with Hong Kong to import rare vases.

The biggest industry in San Francisco, however, is tourism. The city hosts millions of visitors each year, and generates billions of dollars in income from them. San Francisco is a popular location for conventions and conferences, and the city has put a lot of work into creating the necessary atmosphere and infrastructure to support it. The Moscone Center is recognized as a world-class convention center; and there are over 200 hotels in the city, many of them with 4- or 5-star ratings.

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Economy

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