Anchor institutions play an important role in regional economies. The Anchor Economy Initiative explores how hospitals and higher education institutions sustain jobs, drive economic growth, and support equitable regional development in 524 regions across the U.S.

The Economic Growth & Mobility Project brings together researchers and community partners to find innovative, actionable, and community-driven solutions to local or regional economic challenges. Research is conducted through Research in Action Labs that help advance solutions to specific challenges for achieving economic equity in communities.

Together, the Anchor Economy Initiative and the Economic Growth & Mobility Project are launching a new collaboration: the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab.

Watch this webinar recording from March 29, 2023, for a general introduction to the program.

Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab

Selected Applicants

The Philadelphia Fed selected two communities, following a call for applications, as Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab communities: Atlantic County, New Jersey, and Northeast PA (NEPA). These communities will be engaged in a multipartner process over 18–24 months to address a workforce challenge, with the communities’ anchor institutions as lead participants.

In NEPA, The Institute will function as the lead community organization; it specializes in providing informed decision-making with the use of data analysis, research, and consulting. It will co-lead this initiative with Lackawanna College and Johnson College.

In Atlantic County, the Atlantic County Workforce Development Board provides educational resources to promote workforce readiness and will co-lead with the Atlantic Cape Community College.

Workforce Solutions

As some of their region’s largest employers, and as institutions that train and educate the workforce, anchor institutions play a pivotal role in creating and connecting people to job opportunities. Both organizations will collaborate with their selected anchor institutions and focus on workforce solutions to improve equity in training, provide support for workers, and create quality job opportunities.

What Is the Timing?

The lab is an 18–24 month engagement that is broken into four phases:

Discover: The formation of regional collaboratives with a workforce focus, including at least one higher education or hospital anchor institution and one community organization

Define: Leveraging research, data, and community input to define a workforce challenge that the collaborative will address

Develop: Learning from experts, community organizations, and residents in order to shape solutions to the workforce challenge identified, and using a design thinking approach to synthesize research and learnings to forge solutions

Deliver: Identifying the structure and resources needed for solution implementation

How Will Communities Benefit?

There are several benefits for participating community groups:

  1. Research: data from the Federal Reserve Bank and the Anchor Economy Dashboard focused on the impact anchors have in your region, as well as guidance on conducting qualitative research — interviews and focus groups — with community members
  2. Expertise: national experts on workforce development, the anchor mission, and research techniques will be brought in by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia for key phases of the Research in Action Lab
  3. Facilitation: guided process — leveraging design thinking — to elicit partner collaboration and input
  4. Promotion: the opportunity to highlight innovations in employment equity developed by your community on the local, state, and federal levels

Additionally, participants will have opportunities to:

  1. Build partnerships: bring more members of the community together to address regional workforce challenges
  2. Increase capacity: through a collaborative process that brings in new partners and resources
  3. Grow trust: among residents, institutions, nonprofits, and government by collaborating on regional workforce challenges and developing solutions together
  4. Implement solutions: use the Research in Action Lab to identify solutions and the partners and resources needed to implement those solutions

For additional insight, the Anchor Economy Dashboard is a resource that communities can use to explore how many jobs are supported by anchor institutions within a region.

For questions about the Anchors for Equity Research in Action Lab, contact Deborah Diamond or Ashley Putnam at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.