Tuesday, 24 May 2022  |  Reading time:  11 mins  | Read online

Anchor Institutions

This week's edition focuses on anchor institutions; in particular how local governments can utilise power and collaborate to achieve social outcomes.

Anchor Institutions are large organisations that are based in and have a long-term commitment to an area, often demonstrating this commitment by using their place-based economic power to align themselves with and strengthen their local communities. These institutions generally have a mission or purpose which is closely connected to the current and future wellbeing of a particular geographic community. Anchor Institutions are vital to their communities because they:

  • are often the largest local employers and spenders
  • own and/or manage important local infrastructure and assets, including land and buildings
  • procure and invest locally
  • contribute to local development, revitalisation and economic growth
  • support local social, sporting, cultural, and environmental activities.

Municipal governments, hospitals, and higher education institutions are some of the most common examples of anchor institutions, but museums, libraries, schools and foundations act as anchors as well.

Anchoring Strategies are specific initiatives which leverage an organisation’s resources in ways which achieve local value (e.g. a ‘buy local’ target, or a pathway program linking local high school students to council traineeships).

Anchor Missions, comprising multiple, interconnected Anchoring Strategies, describe the process of using institutions’ long-term, place based power to strengthen a local community, especially one with barriers to economic equity and opportunity, consciously linking institutional objectives with population wellbeing. Local governments can further leverage planning and tax-levying powers as part of their anchor missions.

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This week's featured content

Anchor approaches: Amplifying the positive impacts of Local Government

Anchor approaches generate robust and long-lasting place-based outcomes by providing a framework for establishing and delivering on explicit internal and external intentions to create positive impacts and overcome local challenges (e.g. declining viability of Central Business Districts due to the closure of small businesses), including through leveraging local strengths and opportunities (e.g. the presence of a significant industrial or academic institution).

The diagram above, from YCGU’s Universities as Anchors-in-Place, describes six domains of activity that can be activated via an Anchor approach in order to deliver core business and improve place-based wellbeing. These domains do not all need to be activated at once, and an Anchor approach could start through any domain – decisions about which domain provides the best entry point will be determined by local context and priorities. These domains are:

  1. Active collaboration with community – e.g. co-designing and co-monitoring an Anchor Mission with citizens and other local stakeholders
  2. Procurement and supply chain – e.g. ‘buy local’ targets and commitments
  3. Place-based impact investment – e.g. pooling investment with other Anchors and/or Philanthropic, Corporate, Government investors to enable strategic local projects designed to create significant local impact
  4. Local recruitment and workforce development – e.g. using local data to catalyse education and training institutions to develop the capability of local under-employed cohorts, including to fill local skills shortages
  5. Generation and regeneration of infrastructure and healthy environment – e.g. refurbishing key council infrastructure to diversify use options, and expanding access to poorly serviced groups
  6. Growing affordable housing – e.g. sharing data, directly growing supply, using land and planning scheme levers to increase supply of affordable, well-located, and appropriate housing, to ensure housing for key community cohorts such as the aged.

LGIU Global Local Highlights

 

Anchor Approaches: Activity domains for system-level transformation
This briefing is the second in our four-part series exploring opportunities for local government to grow local productivity and place-based wellbeing by intentionally adopting Anchor approaches. Drawing on Yunus Centre Griffith University’s work, this briefing examines a Council-led initiative to drive social and economic transformation in Auckland, Australia. Click here to read this briefing.

Sustainable Futures: Community wealth building
Post Covid-19 there is an opportunity to seek out alternative approaches to local economic development that prioritise the needs and wants of local people and communities over that of external shareholder profit. This briefing will be of interest to local authorities who want to take action to address the external leakage of locally generated wealth and in doing so help address socio-economic inequalities. Click here to read this briefing.

Anchor Approaches: Collaborations in practice
The third in our four-part series, this briefing takes a deeper look at the City of Logan, Australia, where individual initiatives have built over time into what is now a common vision with pooled resources, delivering place-based impact investments that are transforming economic opportunities for many in the city. Click here to read this briefing.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

 

Canada: Anchor institutions launch inclusive social procurement campaign
Launched in 2015, AnchorTO is a community of practice co-founded by the City of Toronto, comprising of more than 18 public sector anchor institutions seeking to achieve economic development outcomes. Having helped local institutions engage in social procurement in recent years, last year AnchorTO moved to upgrade this with an equity lens, with measures to enable greater numbers of Black-owned and diverse businesses benefit from its social procurement ecosystem. These include market research to understand the Black-led business landscape, new support resources to boost inclusivity and participation, creation of a diverse vendor searchable database, and a pilot of an inclusive vendor certification model.
AnchorTO

UK: “Preston Model” successful in regenerating city
In 2011, Preston City Council adopted the Community Wealth Building approach, which was initially developed by the Democracy Collaborative in the USA. The subsequent local spend by Preston anchor organisations into local businesses more than doubled over the next few years. Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, Preston’s local spending increased from £38.3 million to £112.3 million, with the city’s unemployment rate halving. The “Preston Model” saw the city also move out of the top 20% most deprived local authority areas in the UK and was highly acclaimed for its approaches to regeneration and economic development.
CLES

USA: Cleveland scheme designed to achieve equitable development
In 2005, a multi-anchor partnership was formed in Cleveland to address a historic disparity between the powerhouse Greater University Circle neighbourhood and its surrounds. The Greater University Circle Initiative was launched to lift and redevelop the neighbourhoods surrounding the city’s University Circle district. The scheme centred on three goals: Buying local, hiring local, and living local, and saw a employer-assisted housing program, new cooperatives, and workforce training strategies implemented. These measures resulted in hundreds of new residents and trained employees and millions in local business revenue.
Candid

UK: Birmingham anchor institutions seek to create supply chain hub to boost SME procurement
The seven partners that make up the Birmingham Anchor Network have been investigating how to use procurement opportunities to increase their contribution to the city’s economy, with particular focus on socially generative SMEs. The Anchor Network is now investigating funding and piloting a dedicated supply chain hub, acting as an active “bridge” between Birmingham’s SMEs and the Network’s partners. The hub seeks to identify local SMEs with particular social value potential, develop the capacity of SMEs to deliver Anchor Network supply chain opportunities, accredit the social value generated by businesses, and provide an accessible way for anchor institutions to invite tenders to socially generative SMEs.
CLES

Policy & Resources

Guide: Growing anchor networks in place: a how to guide
This guide from CLES (UK) explains the conditions that are required for networks of anchor intuitions to flourish, drawing on learning from the Birmingham Anchor Network. The guide provides a practical illustration as to how groups of anchors can adopt progressive strategies in relation to procurement, employment, land and property assets to assist reforming local economies.

Report: Anchor Institutions
This report from the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto provides a great introduction to anchor mission building while its ‘Anchor missions in action’ and ‘Anchor strategies in the Toronto Region’ sections outline practical initiatives through a number of helpful and detailed North American case studies.

Publication: Australian Universities as Anchors-in-Place: A Yunus Centre Provocation
This provocation from the Yunus Centre outlines the special responsibility that Universities have, as major anchor institutions in their communities, to create opportunity and drive inclusive growth strategies. 

Resources: Community Wealth Building
This bundle of LGIU content highlights different perspectives on community wealth building and how this approach may be used by local authorities. It features a number of briefings and articles alongside case studies from councils sharing their experiences with the strategy.

Thanks for reading!

Next week, we'll be tackling a slightly different topic by looking at crucial career skills for people working in local government (especially new councillors). Following that, we'll be exploring the role of behavioural economics in local government through 'nudges'. 

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