Types of Anchor Institution Initiatives

An Overview of University Urban Development Literature


  • Paul Garton Seton Hall University




Anchor institutions, Community engagement, Town-gown, Urban universities, Urban development


Interest in universities as anchor institutions within their communities and cities is growing as civic leaders search for ways to build local wealth. Systematic analysis of the effects of anchor institution initiatives remains difficult due to the disparate nature of anchor initiatives and a relative lack of a shared language describing the work. This article reviews the anchor literature to summarize current understandings of universities and economic development, then develops a typology of anchor institution initiatives based upon the literature. The typology is based upon the type of capital leveraged by initiatives: (a) financial, (b) physical, (c) intellectual, and (d) human. The author then uses the typology to categorize a number of initiatives found within the literature and through a rough sampling process. This typology offers a shared language for scholars to use to guide discussions around universities as anchor institutions, and, more importantly, the typology can frame analyses of the differential effects, costs, and benefits of different anchor strategies.

Author Biography

Paul Garton, Seton Hall University

Paul Garton is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Quantitative Methods in the Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall University.


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