City releases $3.4 million in grants to support economic recovery throughout San Francisco’s economic core

Nonprofit organizations can apply with proposals to support street vibrancy, ground floor activations, recovery planning and visitor marketing initiatives.
August 12, 2022
View of Salesforce tower from the street

San Francisco, CA — The Office of Economic Workforce Development (OEWD) today announced $3.4 million in funding to launch and implement economic recovery initiatives aimed at drawing workers, residents and visitors back into San Francisco’s Economic Core. Through a Request For Proposal (RFP), funding is available to support the planning, implementation, and promotion of a range of activations in both public parks and plazas and vacant ground floor spaces. In addition to the programming, it will also support broader efforts aimed at attracting visitors to the city and the economic core while investing in stakeholder engagement and planning efforts necessary to develop long-term solutions for the evolving economic environment created by COVID-19.

“The activities under this procurement are a vital step in the revitalization of our Economic Core and complements our role in supporting and strengthening small, local, and underrepresented businesses, entrepreneurs, and cultural groups,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We encourage nonprofits to apply for these opportunities. We will be most successful in bringing workers, residents and visitors back into our Economic Core and to the businesses that are struggling to keep their doors open by showcasing the creativity and uniqueness that makes San Francisco so special.”

The focus of this $3.4 million Request For Proposal (RFP) will invite applications to apply in the four following program areas:

  • Proposals to produce activations of various scales and sizes in the public realm, including plazas, parks, street events, etc. and vacant ground floor space. The intent of this programming is to generate street vibrancy and a consistent sense of activity through ongoing, re-occurring, or seasonal activations, pop-ups, or other events that generate attention and momentum with a particular emphasis on supporting nearby small businesses and creating opportunities for local and/or underserved arts, entertainment, culture and small businesses. These activities include a range of small to large events with varying frequencies to include focus on creating arts, culture, recreational or entertainment experiences that support and promote local shopping and dining.
  • Proposals to support successful programming aimed at “popping up” temporary uses within vacant ground floor storefronts. Awardees under this program area will play a facilitation role to conduct outreach and technical assistance activities that ensure widespread awareness and the necessary support to tenants conducting temporary activations in order to curate a robust program that allows new business, arts, culture, and other uses to activate vacant spaces, ensure the economic core has the amenities and services visitors require, and open opportunities for local entrepreneurs, small businesses and arts and culture organizations to create unique brands, experiences, and activities within the Economic Core.
  • Proposals from nonprofit organizations that support the ongoing stakeholder driven process for developing solutions on the ground and create effective communications and marketing strategies that ensure awareness and support the success of programs that are implemented. Awardees will work closely with OEWD to convene a broad array of those that represent the Economic Core – employers, employees, property owners, arts and cultural organizations, etc. in order to design, develop and help implement strategies that advance economic recovery. To complement and amplify the launch of events and activities, awardees will additionally develop communications campaigns and programs that will attract and promote workers, residents, and visitors citywide and abroad into the Economic Core.
  • Proposals to develop a visitor and tourist campaign to promote San Francisco as a worldwide destination for travel. Awardees will create and implement a comprehensive strategy to proactively market San Francisco to conventions as well as business and leisure travelers with particular attention on showcasing the communities and industries in the city that need interest and awareness from tourists in order to support their economic recovery.

“I love everything about this!” said Sharky Laguana, President of the San Francisco Small Business Commission. “This program will do a lot to bolster our small businesses, and help bring people back downtown. It's also a great opportunity to get creative with our storefronts to showcase the diversity of food, arts, and culture that San Francisco is known for.”

“We are thrilled to have these significant funds available to help entrepreneurs create and launch activities and experiences that will be a draw to our Economic Core, for both locals and tourists,” said Laurie Thomas, Executive Director, Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “Our restaurants, cafes and bars have experienced a super difficult financial two years and bringing more people into the downtown area is essential for their survival. Funds are critical to help make dreams a reality, and these will help to create, develop and bring to life new businesses and pop-ups.”

OEWD is committed to pursuing this strategy in a manner that creates new opportunities for local entrepreneurs, artists, cultural organizations and others that have experienced some of the largest economic impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City’s Economic Core is largely contained within San Francisco's downtown region including Union Square, Mid-Market and South of Market (SOMA), up along the waterfront, the East Cut (Rincon Hill/ Transbay), Yerba Buena, and Mission Bay neighborhoods. The Economic Core is responsible for almost 70% of San Francisco's jobs, holds 42% of the city's small businesses and produced 47% of the city's sales tax prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a significant portion of the City’s transfer tax and the majority of the City’s gross receipts tax. This area has seen the largest and most sustained losses foot traffic and economic activity - creating a significant threat to the viability of customer facing business located within the Core and a broader risk to the overall function of the core as a driver of jobs, visitors, and economic activity for the entire city and region.

The funding will be made available through an open Requests for Proposals (RFP) process. Submissions are due September 1, 2022. OEWD will host an optional online Technical Assistance Conference via Zoom on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 at 4:00 PM. to assist applicants in determining the eligibility of proposed projects, completing the proposal package, and navigating City requirements.

Get more information on the RFP and apply.