San Francisco Luring Companies from Latin America

The job market in San Francisco is one of the best in the country. But, that isn’t stopping Mayor Ed Lee from trying to expand the business sector. He spent two days in Mexico City on a trade mission, and on September 9th, he announced the start of LatinSF, which will help expand San Francisco businesses into Mexico, Central and South America, as well as bring some of those companies and customers here.

The program is spearheaded by the city and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. It is patterned after a similar, successful program called ChinaSF which began in 2008. That program helped bring over 45 companies to the Bay Area from China, along with many jobs. The mayor and Chamber hope to have the same success with LatinSF. In fact, the two programs can help each other out, as San Francisco is a hub for technology, which attracts Latin tech companies, while simultaneously opening the door to Asian markets for those companies. Of course, that benefit is shared by the Chinese companies, who will have markets opened up in Latin America as well.

LatinSF if focusing on Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Columbia and Peru. Cost for the program is roughly $200,000 USD, with the city paying for half, and private companies footing the rest of the bill. The returns on this investment are expected to be astronomical. However, one stumbling block is the fact that there are non-stop flights from San Francisco to Mexico City, but none to South America. The International airport commented that things might change though, as business demand grows. If there is a need for the flights, those flights will begin.

ChinaSF has offices in Beijing and Shanghai, but there is currently no plan for a physical office anywhere in Latin America. For now, they will operate out of the Chamber offices. Should the need arise, offices may be sought in one or more of the Latin American countries. They are currently working on hiring a director off the LatinSF program, but none have been identified as of yet.