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What are Anchor Institutions?


What is an Anchor Institution?

The term Anchor institutions refer to large, typically non-profit organisations like hospitals, local councils, and universities whose long-term sustainability is tied to the wellbeing of the populations they serve.

Anchors get their name because they have ‘sticky capital’ (i.e. are unlikely to move given their connection to the local population) and have a significant influence on the health and wellbeing of a local community through their sizeable assets. It is from this vantage point, that Anchor Institutions can make an important contribution to the local economy and local communities.

Through their day to day practices, anchor institutions have the leverage to maximize social value through their role as workforce developers, employers and procurers, their core business (health and education for instance) and linkages to the place they operate.


Why are they important and who do they benefit?

The pandemic has had a significant impact on Essex’s economy, and in particular it has affected those who were already within our most disadvantaged communities, causing widening gaps in inequalities and contributing to poor public health.  Anchor Institutions are in a unique and important position to be able to maximise their location, resources and spending power and address these challenges, improving the health of local populations and bringing benefits to all. Anchor Institutions can also develop a strong, local economy which is more self-sustaining, independent, and therefore more resilient to future challenges within the global market.


How do we take the next steps and is there any support available?

Every organisation will be at a different stage in their Anchor journey.  For some, this may be right at the very beginning, others may already have strategies, ideas or projects underway without this being attributed to an Anchor Programme, but there will also be organisations whose Anchor maturity is already well embedded into their processes.  Each organisation will choose to focus their efforts on issues that are important to them and their communities, and in areas where they believe they can create an inclusive and enriched economy for the local people.

Anchor Institutions have several levers available to them which they can influence to help shape the local area, these are:

  1. Workforce developer – shaping and developing the skills of the local workforce.
  2. Employer –employing locally and improving the wellbeing of their employees.
  3. Local business incubators – supporting SMEs to encourage growth and innovation within them.
  4. Procurement of goods and services – increasing social value through procurement.
  5. Estates and environment – ensuring estates include community, health and environmental benefits.


For more information on Anchors work in Essex, ideas for local action, and how you can be a part of the journey, please follow this link: Anchor Resources