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Report: When Big and Small Businesses Team Up, Both Benefit

A collaboration in Maryland focuses on partnerships between large corporations and minority- and women-owned businesses. (
A collaboration in Maryland focuses on partnerships between large corporations and minority- and women-owned businesses. (
September 25, 2017

BALTIMORE, Md. — They’re called anchor institutions: organizations like hospitals and universities that have developed deep roots in their communities. And they’re finding new ways to improve local economies and create opportunities for more low-income residents, according to a new report by the Funders Network.

Kurt Sommer, director of the Baltimore Integration Partnership, said the idea is to connect big, well-established corporations with small, local businesses, rather than outsourcing the big companies' needs to other states or countries. He said that creates jobs and strengthens neighborhoods.

"That might be in a neighborhood that is looking for growth and opportunity,” Summer said. "And as part of that process, how can they make sure that community residents are part of the development process, and are being considered for job opportunities?"

Sommer said his group helps hospitals and universities find creative ways to use the services of local businesses that surround their campuses, and added that many of these smaller businesses are minority-owned.

Charles Rutheiser, senior associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Civic Sites and Community Change, said when the core business aspects of universities and hospitals can be deployed in partnership with communities, there are better outcomes in health and education.

He pointed to programs that encourage students to stay in school, and help them make successful transitions to college.

"Anchor institutions are a new and important chapter in the long history of approaches to community development in the United States,” Rutheiser said. "These institutions can partner, invest and act in new and different ways, without sacrificing their bottom line."

He added the Casey Foundation is exploring ways to expand the anchor category to include other types of businesses with community connections - from for-profit companies and sports teams to libraries and museums. Rutheiser said the next step is to translate these best practices into policy, so that more places can support anchor-based community development.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD