What is an ‘Anchor Institution’?

By Matthew Stein

What is an anchor institution, you ask? Anchor institutions are economic engines for cities which act as employers, real estate developers, community-builders, and developers of human capital. Examples of such institutions include colleges & universities, hospitals, libraries and museums, performing arts and cultural facilities, and local corporations. These institutions are magnets for economic development, encouraging urban reinvention, civic pride and attracting people from outside of urban boundaries to contribute to the city.

Anchor institutions have access to desirable real estate and can appropriately develop distressed areas to stimulate and inspire local economic growth. Anchors can (and should) be encouraged to serve as work-force developers, real estate partners, and purchasers of local goods and services.

The idea of these institutions leaving the city is unthinkable, hence the term “anchor” institution. Anchor institutions are often nonprofits that draw in billions of non-local dollars, which they tend to spend locally. They are rooted in their community and have a strong sense of neighborliness entrenched in social responsibility and civic engagement.

This is Part I of a III-part series, so stay tuned for more on anchor institutions!