Anchor Initiatives

The term “anchor” is typically applied to universities and hospitals, but municipal governments, community foundations, corporations, sports teams, and arts and cultural organizations can also behave as local economic anchors. Anchor organizations play significant roles in their local economies due to purchasing power, real estate, employment, and a long-term interest in seeing their local communities thrive. Their history, relationships, institutional mission, and investments root them in their local communities. The sustainability of anchor organizations is inextricably linked to the vitality of their surrounding communities. It affects demand for their goods and services, employee attraction and retention, business operations and overall competitiveness. It is in an anchor’s interest, therefore, to build a strong, healthy local economy.

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)’s Anchor Institution Strategic Framework defines seven strategies anchors use to accelerate local economic revitalization. Anchor organizations that intentionally engage these seven strategies will produce measurable returns for both the community and the organization.

ICIC is recognized as an authority on anchor institutions. Anchor institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania and the Cleveland Clinic have used our strategic anchor framework to guide their community engagement. Today, we continue to build on that work to support initiatives with multiple anchors that are poised to transform under-resourced communities.

While “eds and meds” are the conventional anchors and remain the focus of most anchor initiatives, our work also focuses on anchors that have been traditionally overlooked in both research and practice, such as for-profit companies and arts and culture organizations.

The New Anchors: Corporate Engagement with Lower-Income Communities in Smaller Cities (Report, 2021). This report shows how for-profit companies can engage as anchors with lower-income communities in smaller cities.

In Search of For-Profit Anchors (Blogpost, 2021). This blogpost explains where for-profit anchors are located and where they are most important in local economies.

How Local Policymakers and Practitioners Can Encourage Large Companies to Engage with Lower-Income Communities (Blogpost, 2021). This blogpost gives recommendations for policy and practice to encourage large companies to act as anchors.

How Large Companies Can Be Anchors for Lower-Income Communities (Blogpost, 2021). This blogpost gives recommendations for large companies that are interested in becoming anchors or expanding their anchor engagement.

The Overlooked Anchors: Advancing a New Standard of Practice for Arts and Culture Organizations to Create Equitable Opportunity in America’s Cities  (Report, 2019). This report shows how arts and culture organizations can become anchors.

Overlooked No More: Advancing the Anchor Framework to Arts and Culture Organizations (Blogpost, 2019). Summarizes the major findings of The Overlooked Anchors.

Will Hospitals Become the New Vanguard in Urban Economic Development? (Practice Brief, 2015)

New Incentives and Opportunities for Hospitals to Engage in Local Economic Development (Article, 2015)

Creating an Anchored Local Economy in Newark (Report, 2015)

Implementation Plan for MLK Medical Campus and the Willowbrook Wellness Community (Presentation, 2013)

Anchor Institutions and Food Systems: A Recipe for Economic Growth (Practice Brief, 2014)

Anchor Institutions and Urban Economic Development: From Community Benefit to Shared Value (Article, 2011)

Leveraging Anchor Institutions to Grow Inner City Businesses (Practice Brief, 2010)

Using Procurement to Grow Inner City Businesses (Practice Brief, 2010)

Leveraging Colleges and Universities for Urban Economic Revitalization (Report, 2002)


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