Why Chinese Companies Are Opening Offices In San Francisco

Posted on September 14th, 2012 by

Darlene Chiu Bryant of China SF, discusses how she recruits Chinese companies to build an office in San Francisco.

Full Transcript:

Darlene Chiu Bryant Hi. I just want to give you kind of brief background of what China SF is. Simply put, we are the China Desk to San Francisco. We work closely with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. We’re a non-profit but we’re based out of the San Francisco Center for Economic Development which is the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. That being said having been now in our 4th year of operation, our goal is to create more jobs in San Francisco and what we are is a platform and what we do is help   businesses, we recruit businesses from China to locate in San Francisco at the same time we help businesses locally expand overseas in the China market.We have an office in Shanghai and Beijing and we also work with a network of partnerships locally as well. That being said, we all know that San Francisco is probably one of the most cleanest cities in America at this point and the thing is in China with their growth in this sector, they’re expanding overseas and San Francisco is definitely one destination that they look at. That’s how ReneSola came into the picture, when we realized that they want to come to San Francisco, we said “you should look at San Francisco, this is where PG&E is”, San Francisco is probably going to be the first to reach net zero by 2020. We definitely do advocate for other technologies and this has become a hub for cleantech technology in the United States.First of all when it comes to cleantech almost a lot of the clean tech companies actually start in San Francisco. A lot of them have come out of PG&E which is kind of ironic but at the same time, when it comes to innovation, San Francisco is the place to be. That being said you have cleantech and then the cleantech conference and that’s kind of like, as you know, kind of the organizations, association that everybody goes to for more information and for networking, and being in San Francisco just helps facilitate so much more. In addition to that, you also have a city where not just for Chinese, but particularly Chinese, when they come here they feel really comfortable because of a large Asian and a large Chinese population here. It’s easier for them to navigate.It’s also worth knowing that San Francisco has a city government that is willing to work with them, to navigate the system with departments that are willing to try new technologies, whether it be a demo site or what have you. It’s just good to see that and it just makes it so much easier  to welcome a company like that in San Francisco.
Ben Lack Why San Francisco and not other parts of Silicon Valley because there’s plenty of cities that are offering the clean tech innovation selling points. So, what do you guys do or what do you say to say that you really should be in the actual city instead of in Sunnyvale or Cupertino or Redwood City?
Darlene Chiu Bryant There’s two things that I’d say and one is that you know the X-generation is down the Silicon valley the Y-generation is in San Francisco. Two, if Google has to expand the campus that they started in San Francisco, that’s speaks louder than words, in addition to that we have Twitter and they are moving in San Francisco and that is everything. That innovation is definitely the place where all the kids with the brains, with the creativity  – they want to live in San Francisco and no other place in the Bay Area.
Ben Lack What’s the biggest challenge to getting companies to open offices here in San Francisco and then conversely what’s been a pleasant surprise for businesses in clean tech that you’ve found that is taking place in the clean tech space.
Darlene Chiu Bryant I think the biggest challenge has been a lot of cities, to your point, they’re offering a lot of probably financial incentives whereas in San Francisco, because when you talk about innovation you need the talent and the talent is definitely here in San Francisco, which to us we found that “hey it’s great”. In addition to that, it’s good for us and its good for the company that’s moving. Companies also finds that, “Oh my god there’s a city that the government is willing to work with us if we want to expand, they can actually work with us”. That has already happened for a couple of companies who are new to this country.
Ben Lack Why are you doing what you’re doing and why does this industry interest you?
Darlene Chiu Bryant Clean tech is interesting because energy as we know for over a decade already has been probably the foremost topic on anybody’s mind; to have a clean source of renewable energy. And then so the thing for us – solar of course is just one of the many different types of energy resources to consider and in China because they have the technology and they have the money to invest in the technology and also to invest in projects in the United States. That’s something that we want to bring in because that would be the easiest source of jobs. You know we’re relying on companies locally who may not have the ready access to cash to be able make something happen as fast a company in China.

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