Sameera Fazili
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Community and Economic Development Department
Discussion Paper 2019-2
December 2019

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Engaging universities and hospitals to address economic disparities—often referred to as anchor institution strategies—has been understudied in the Southeast. The author examines efforts to launch anchor institution strategies in the Southeast. First, the author reviews the anchor institution concept in economic development, noting how the strategy has evolved from single institutions focusing on a set of neighborhoods to expanding to multi-institution collaboratives that attempt to tackle economic inequalities at a city or regional level. Second, the author offers case studies of New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami’s efforts to establish anchor institution programs between 2016 and 2018, to illustrate how southeastern cities are trying to adopt the model. Third, the author raises questions for practitioners, as they consider whether an anchor strategy might be useful in addressing some of their local economic disparities. Questions include who leads an anchor program, what geography the program focuses on, whether the program has one or multiple institutions, the impact of the anchor’s status as a public or private institution, community engagement strategies, and the potential role of historically black colleges and universities in anchor programs.

JEL classification: I23, O18, R1, R11, Z13, Z18

Key words: inclusive growth, economic mobility, economic development, anchor institutions, universities, hospital, small business, procurement

The author would like to thank the following people for their help in shaping this paper, including reviewing drafts and discussing the content: Ashleigh Gardere, Solomon Greene, Ines Hernandez, David Jackson, Neil Kleiman, Ellen Macht, Alicia Philipp, Bonita Robinson, Charles Rutheiser, Janisse Schoepp, Missy Hopson Sparks, Tene Traylor, Jennifer Vey, and David Zuckerman. The author thanks Mels de Zeeuw for assistance with data analysis. The views expressed here are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the author’s responsibility.

Comments to the author are welcome at