San Francisco’s Global Position

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By: Amber Schiada, Vice President & Director of Research


As technology advances and communication grows ever more rapid and pervasive, one inevitable result is that global business competition becomes even more intense. The competition between cities is even more so.  There are now 500 cities around the world boasting more than one million inhabitants.  The “Big Six” – Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris and Tokyo — may expand to seven soon with the addition of Seoul, South Korea, which stands out in many key indices used to track the attractiveness and competitiveness of cities.

In the third installment of its Business of Cities research, JLL’s Cities Research Center has released Benchmarking the Future of World Cities, an in-depth paper looking at 200 world cities measured against criteria including livability, competitiveness, infrastructure, image and culture.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco’s position within the universe of world cities has been greatly enhanced by its position as a ‘knowledge and innovation’ hub. Some rankings, such as Z/Yen place San Francisco firmly in the top 10 global financial centers.  As the JLL report says:  “The innovation economy is urbanizing exponentially. Many cities find that their capacity to leverage their knowledge assets and foster innovation is critical to their success.”

San Francisco is ninth globally in attracting commercial real estate investment (London is #1, followed by New York and Tokyo) jumping to seventh in terms of its appeal to foreign investors.

It isn’t just the depth of expertise in tech and innovation that has put San Francisco higher in the rankings of world cities though. The city also placed highly in terms of cultural assets, lifestyle and amenities. Museums and galleries like the De Young, in Golden Gate Park, the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the expanded and renovated  SFMOMA, which reopens in just two weeks time, are a major part of the city’s appeal to businesses, residents and tourists alike.

To read the first two installments of the JLL Cities Research please visit the links below:

Installment 1 – The Business of Cities 2015, we analyze 200 City Indices that provide unique insights into current urban dynamics (May, 2015)

Installment 2 – Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities examines emerging global city hierarchies and their impact on the geography of real estate (November, 2015)



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