Article Topics


Catalyzing Communities: The Role of Anchor Institutions in Building Inclusive Economies for Health Equity

By ICIC | October 18, 2023

The Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) recently convened in Los Angeles for their annual gathering, diving into discussions on #AnchorMission, #HealthEquity, #CommunityDevelopment, and #SDoH (Social Determinants of Health). At the heart of HAN’s mission lies the commitment to fostering equitable health outcomes by cultivating more inclusive and sustainable local economies. A focal point in achieving this mission is the role of small businesses as vital contributors, playing a pivotal role in narrowing the racial wealth gap through job creation.

Steve Grossman and Anna Marie Cruz from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) joined forces with colleagues from Kaiser Permanente and other partners, engaging in conversations that address economic and racial inequities within communities—critical components influencing health outcomes.

Group photo at the HAN conference: Sandra Hayter, Vizient; Steve Grossman, ICIC; Tommy Smith, Kaiser Permanente; Ije-Enu Nwosu, Kaiser Permanente; Marliz Copado, UCSF; Christy Parque, HAN; David Zuckerman, HAN; John Vu, Kaiser Permanente; Andaye Hill-Espinoza, Protiviti; Samika Ramirez, Kaiser Permanente; Anna Marie Cruz, ICIC; Avital Aboody, Kaiser Permanente

The key to sustainability, job creation, capital access, generational wealth, and improved wellness outcomes lies in the growth of local businesses. This growth is not merely an economic endeavor but a powerful strategy for narrowing the racial wealth gap.

A fundamental aspect of this approach is the establishment of community partnerships and the cultivation of trust through long-term relationships with grassroots organizations. These organizations serve as the pulse of the community, intimately understanding its economic challenges and unmet needs. This interconnected network forms a “virtuous circle” that includes community residents and leaders, the small business ecosystem, non-profits, technical assistance providers, facilitators of capital, and anchor institutions.

Critical skills are needed to navigate this complex network effectively. Listening, patience, and a long-term commitment are of paramount importance. Capacity building is not a quick fix but a sustained effort to empower communities.

A key challenge comes into play: the potential conflict between a cost-sensitive anchor procurement strategy and the imperative of supplier diversity for lasting local impact. Balancing these elements is essential for success.

Closing panel at the HAN conference (left to right): Steve Grossman, CEO, ICIC; Nicole Williams, ED, LISC LA; Mariah Van Ermen, Director of Anchor Mission, West Side United; Derek Steel, ED, Social Justice Learning Institute; Patrick McClenahan, President and CEO, Goodwill Southern California

Anchor institutions, with their considerable purchasing and procurement power, are pivotal in this equation. Unlocking this power beyond its current scope is crucial. The importance of anchor institutions lies in their ability to affect the local economy in ways that can have lasting impacts.

Capacity building and innovative supply chain financing strategies play crucial roles in this process. The focus is not merely on short-term gains but on the long-term proposition of creating lasting positive change.

In essence, the anatomy of anchor impacts lies in the intricate connections and collaborations within the community. By fostering relationships, supporting local businesses, and addressing economic and racial inequities, anchor institutions can become catalysts for profound and sustainable change. The path forward requires a commitment to listening, patience, and the understanding that this journey is both a challenge and an opportunity for long-term transformation.


ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.


PO Box 191297
Roxbury MA 02119
Phone: 617-238-1740

Stay Connected

Sign up for our mailings and stay up-to-date on all research, commentary, and news related to ICIC as we continue to drive inclusive economic prosperity in America’s under-resourced communities.

Sign Up

© 2024 ICIC. All rights reserved.

Terms of Use    Privacy Policy