Leadership & Influence

Design Labs

Cities play an important role in regional economic development, however often the lack of coordination among sectors and the lack of a clear vision or framework for action can undermine this potential. Living Cities’ Design Labs bring together public, private, and philanthropic leaders from an array of fields to work collaboratively to develop actionable frameworks for driving urban innovation and transformation. Through these intensive, hands-on, multi-party sessions, participants focus on important issues or opportunities within cities and work to identify the networks, concrete actions and innovative practices that public and private institutions across a region can adopt in order to maximize cities’ economic potential and ensure benefit for all residents.


Design Lab: Harnessing the Full Economic Impact of Anchor Institutions

Anchor institutions like universities and hospitals directly and indirectly generate considerable economic activity. However, the potential impact of this economic activity for regional economies is often not fully realized, in part because the benefits and opportunities created by that economic activity are not aggregated or geographically concentrated in the anchors’ home region. Meanwhile, insufficient attention is paid to how regional residents—including low-income residents—might access such opportunities.

In March of 2012, Living Cities convened more than 60 public-sector, private-sector, and philanthropic leaders representing anchor institutions and systems including regional economic development and planning, small business, finance, and workforce development. Our goal was to better understand how, within a region, these systems can better harness the economic impact of anchor institutions in order to drive growth and opportunity. What emerged were key ideas to guide the field’s future work in this area, as well as issues for potential further exploration.

Download the full report on the Design Lab here.