A Prosperous Economy For All

Where We Want to Be in the Future

  • A growing and diversified South San Francisco economy supports jobs and businesses in industries including biomedical technologies, digital technologies, manufacturing, distribution, hospitality, and household-serving retail and services.

  • All South San Francisco residents can achieve broadly shared prosperity through high-quality education, job training, job opportunities, and culturally relevant services for entrepreneurs.

  • Preservation of retail and services for residents and workers that can be conveniently accessed nearby, such as stores, restaurants, and public amenities.

  • South San Francisco includes a thriving mix of locally owned businesses that represent the city’s rich cultural diversity.

  • Robust South San Francisco tax and fee revenues allow the City to provide high quality and equitably distributed services for residents, workers, and visitors.



01Performance Metrics:

Number of jobs and businesses


Growth rates of jobs and businesses match or exceed growth rates for San Mateo County overall during comparable periods of time


02Performance Metrics:

Share of locally owned businesses


Long-term increase in the share of locally owned businesses


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future.

03Performance Metrics:

Share of jobs filled by city residents


Year-over-year increase in the share of jobs within South San Francisco that are filled by residents


04Performance Metrics:

Race/ethnicity of workers at jobs in South San Francisco


Race/ethnicity of workers employed in South San Francisco matches the race and ethnicity of employed South San Francisco residents overall


05Performance Metrics:

Resident participation in job skills, adult education, and union apprenticeship training


Year-over-year growth in the percent of residents participating in available programs


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future.

06Performance Metrics:

South San Francisco General Fund revenue per capita, disaggregated by revenue source (property tax, sales tax, transient occupancy tax, etc.)


Year-over-year growth in inflation-adjusted General Fund revenue per capita.


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future.

07Performance Metrics:

Residents located within a fifteen-minute walk of a food store with fresh produce and a drug store, disaggregated by race and ethnicity


Year-over-year growth in number of residents meeting criteria, and reduction in disparities by race and ethnicity


How Our Plan

Gets Us There

Aerial view in East of 101

A growing and prosperous economy in South San Francisco will create job and entrepreneurial opportunities for the city’s workforce and provide public revenues that allow the City of South San Francisco to deliver public services, public amenities, and infrastructure that support the community’s high quality of life. The “A Prosperous Economy” Element establishes goals and policies that leverage South San Francisco’s unique economic and workforce assets to ensure that growth creates equitably shared opportunities benefitting all residents.

While the General Plan’s land use policies establish a basic framework for where and how South San Francsico can grow, the City of South San Francisco also plays a unique proactive role in shaping economic activity and outcomes for the city’s workforce. South San Francisco helps determine economic and workforce outcomes through its roles as a provider of services, a funder, a facilitator, and a collaborator with other partners.

Examples include:

  • Investments in transportation infrastructure that impact worker commutes,

  • Types and locations of public facilities and services that support businesses,

  • City efforts that promote South San Francisco’s assets and coordinate the activities of other public, private, and non-profit partners,

  • Incentives and public policies that encourage or discourage different types of development activity and industry growth, and

  • Providing funding resources for specific programs and initiatives.

The Prosperous Economy Element establishes a policy framework for South San Francisco to undertake actions targeting the industries, workforce development needs, and overall economic environment that will together address issues and opportunities confronting the city today and in the future.

Key Issues and Opportunities

Economy and
Industry Mix

Donut chart showing percentage breakdown of South San Francisco Jobs by associated land use category as of 2018

Bar chart comparing the number of jobs by major land use category in 2009 and 2018

Economy and Industry Mix

South San Francisco is a jobs-rich community that attracts workers from across the region to its unique business mix of biotechnology, hospitality, and industries requiring industrial land. As of 2018, there were approximately 57,000 jobs recorded in South San Francisco distributed across five major land uses. The city’s economic diversity helps to insulate the local economy from any future downturns that affect a single industry.

South San Francisco will remain a long-term competitive location for the biotechnology industry due to the large existing concentration of these businesses within the city, strong growth potential in the Bay Area generally, access to venture capital and other professional services in San Mateo County, and the city’s access to a skilled workforce from throughout the region. Fueled by significant investment in the Life Sciences industry and the rapid employment growth of companies like Genentech and that of emerging companies, the biotechnology industry accounted for nearly half of the city’s total employment growth between 2009 and 2018. Future potential may exist for South San Francisco to diversify the mix of businesses related to the biotechnology “cluster,” such as other life sciences businesses and related professional services such as attorneys and financial services.
Although South San Francisco currently lacks a large presence of computer technology and non-biotechnology professional services, continued growth of the Bay Area’s technology industry and related professional services will also increase the potential over time for the city to capture demand from businesses in these industries. The city is already becoming increasingly attractive to office users seeking a lower-cost alternative to San Francisco and southern San Mateo County. However, it is challenging for these businesses to outcompete biotechnology companies for available space and new development.

Outside of manufacturing industry categories related to the biotechnology industry, manufacturing employment in South San Francisco is in a long-term decline. Non-biotechnology manufacturing employment decreased by 20 percent between 2009 and 2018, primarily due to losses of food manufacturing businesses. Loss of “legacy’ manufacturing reflects an industry-wide shift from the high-cost inner Bay Area to areas with more affordable real estate, better access to labor, and lower costs of doing businesses—such as the East Bay and other areas outside of California. However, opportunities may exist for South San Francisco to attract innovation-oriented, small-scale, and advanced manufacturing businesses seeking the workforce accessibility and availability of industrial buildings that first drew biotechnology businesses to the city.
South San Francisco is also a prime location for logistics and distribution uses, reflected in a large and growing number of transportation and warehousing jobs. These businesses are drawn to the city based on its availability of industrial land located near end-user households and businesses, and based on the city’s access to San Francisco International Airport. This proximity to end-user business and population centers will also continue to make South San Francisco a desirable location for construction, service, and repair businesses, along with food manufacturing that benefits from central access to the region’s households and convenient transportation connections to other regions.
South San Francisco is positioned to attract future demand from the hospitality industry, which constituted two percent of jobs in the city as of 2018. Hotel demand is still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; the CoStar real estate data service indicates that the overall occupancy rate for hotels in the “San Francisco Airport” submarket (which includes South San Francisco) stood at 59 percent as of January 2022, down from a pre-pandemic high of 86 percent in 2019. Forecasts for recovery vary, but typically assume full recovery to near-2019 levels of occupancy and revenue per available room may not occur until 2024 or 2025. As the hotel market recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for hotel stays in South San Francisco will be sustained by the city’s major businesses, the presence of the South San Francisco Conference Center, and the city’s proximity to San Francisco International Airport.

Workforce Challenges and Opportunities
Real Estate Trends and Development
Front view of the Jenali building



Goal PE-1

Goal PE-1:

South San Francisco remains a premier location for biotechnology and related industries.


To support the long-term success of the biotechnology industry in South San Francisco while also leveraging the industry’s presence in South San Francisco to attract related businesses and activities.
Policy PE-1.1: Ensure long-term viability of biotechnology.
Continue to support the long-term viability of the East of 101 area for biotechnology and related businesses.
  • Action PE-1.1.1: Monitor constraints to biotechnology and related businesses.
    Through business, broker, and developers contacts, monitor and address potential constraints to ongoing growth of biotechnology and related businesses, including zoning, land supply, transportation, and infrastructure.
Policy PE-1.2: Diversify the biotechnology and life science cluster to include related businesses.
Attraction efforts should focus on related industries that benefit from proximity to existing biotechnology businesses and/or provide complementary services to existing biotechnology businesses. Related businesses could include medical diagnostics, digital health, medical device manufacturing, testing, lab supplies, test products, venture capital firms, and legal services, financial services, and other support services. Attraction efforts should also include understanding and tracking the shift of some life science activities and businesses to the periphery of the Bay Area.
  • Action PE-1.2.2: Biotechnology outreach.
    Gauge and pursue opportunities to support attraction and retention of businesses in the broader biotechnology and life science cluster through participation in industry organizations and one-on-one contacts with businesses, developers, and real estate brokers.
Goal PE-2
Goal PE-3
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Goal PE-7
Goal PE-8