Report Focuses on Value of 'Anchor Institutions' for Cities

October 2, 2015

Relationships between municipalities and “anchor institutions” such as universities and medical centers are more important than ever, according to a new study from the National Resource Center, but they lack structure and direction.

Interviews with experts and city officials revealed “anchors to be among the top three, if not the top employer, in 11 of the 12 cities we assessed,” according to the report, “Striking a (Local) Grand Bargain.”

“Universities and hospitals truly are the new city builders. In many cases, these institutions are the largest real estate developer in the city -- and often, the region. In many cases, they are at the center of new and existing economic clusters." The study notes that relations between communities and these institutions have improved notably over the past 10 years, but they still lack structure and are often dogged by mistrust and inconsistent outcomes.

“Most of the progress -- even in cities with good relationships with local institutions -- is often episodic and project based,” the study says. “Our era of shrinking local revenue and mobile capital demands a different relationship.” The authors outline a more robust, long term alternative, a “grand bargain,” built on common priorities.

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