Fifty years ago, it would have been quite easy to figure out the most powerful employer in a city – a carmaker, perhaps, or a steel mill. Or the corporate headquarters of a giant bank or insurer. Obviously, the intervening decades have meant profound change for cities and their economies. Manufacturing has largely disappeared, and many corporate headquarters fled downtowns for easy-to-access, tax-friendly suburban locales.
Those trends have led city leaders and others to pay greater attention to the institutions that in many places now wield the greatest influence – as employers, as developers, as purchasers of goods and services and as sources of creativity and innovation. These are institutions of higher learning, medical research and the arts: colleges, universities, hospitals and arts organizations.
These have become known as anchor institutions – anchored by place. Quite simply, they will never move and are highly motivated to invest in place. This report, a joint project by CEOs for Cities and Living Cities, is an effort to take a look at what six such institutions have done – to examine how they function as community anchors and developers, as forces for making change and boosting the prospects of not just their campuses, but their neighborhoods.