Experts say hospitals benefit downtowns across the nation

There’s been a lot of discussion about the importance of MVHS’s $480 million project in Downtown Utica, the largest single public-private investment in the city—in the area—ever.

Why will it be so important to the core of the city, the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the entire area?

A healthcare campus of the size and complexity that will be constructed in Downtown Utica over the next few years is an example of what the experts refer to as “anchor institutions,” primarily colleges and hospitals (“eds and meds”), that anchor urban economies—providing stable employment for large numbers of professionals, while causing, influencing and inspiring continuing positive development nearby.

Here’s a small sample of what those experts have said and written in recent years:

  • “Since the term anchor institutions was coined in 2002, an emerging literature has highlighted the current power and future potential of universities, hospitals, and other institutions with long-term, rooted investments…to transform neighborhoods, cities, and regions . . .”
  • “Beyond fulfilling their respective missions to educate, heal, cultivate the arts, or provide other services, eds and meds are proven economic engines . . . a mutually beneficial dynamic evolves between an anchor institution and its community, creating economically sustainable commercial corridors, vibrant streets, and dense, diverse neighborhoods . . . anchor [institution] strategies can transform the community, the region…”
  • “Many communities coast-to-coast see ‘eds and meds’ institutions as crucial, not just for keeping jobs but for keeping neighborhoods vibrant . . . Colleges and hospitals are embedded in their community and have a real stake in seeing that it thrives . . .  [they] offer an enormous market opportunity for inner city businesses.”
  • “ . . . any cursory look at the economic base of various smaller cities and regional centers in the United States would indicate that the stature of non-research based health care and higher education institutions are likewise growing in importance for local and regional economies – particularly those in which both types of facilities (Eds and Meds) are present, suggesting a synergism at play that serves as a catalyst for urban economic development and land use change.”

There’s much more, but you get the picture. Critics will say that all the experts cited are writing about other cities, not Utica. But the overwhelming evidence backed by research is clear—colleges and hospitals are important as anchor institutions in cities large and small, across the country. No one is suggesting the project will solve all the community’s problems. One more expert quote sums up that point well:

“There are no magic solutions. But eds and meds can be important partners in making community wealth building and neighborhood economic transformation happen.”

The MVHS project is not a “magic solution,” true. It’s just the largest single public-private investment in healthcare and our economy ever. And the assertion that it will “transform” Downtown Utica is an understatement.


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