September 13, 2017 – Yesterday, the Indy Chamber publicly announced the Anchor Revitalization Program, a sweeping strategy aimed at redevelopment, local hiring and business opportunities around Marion County’s major institutional employers in partnership with LISC, INHP, Ascend Indiana and Employ Indy.  The announcement comes after a half-day session with partners and participating anchor institutions to plan the next phases of the program, as momentum builds behind a push to encourage anchor employees to live closer to work, spurring neighborhood revitalization across the urban core. The session included a presentation by anchor initiative expert, Ellen Watters, who is working at a national scale to advise LISC on a multi-city engagement strategy around LISC’s role in anchor institution initiatives.

The Anchor Revitalization Program is a three-pronged approach, with “Live, Buy and Hire” strategies that engage some of the city’s largest university and healthcare campuses, community and cultural institutions that can act as civic and economic “anchors” to the often-challenged areas surrounding them:

  • The “Buy” strategy aims to increase spending on local goods and services by strengthening supplier relationships among anchors and Indianapolis-based businesses.
  • The “Hire” strategy aims to further develop the talent pipeline for anchor institutions, focusing on critical workforce needs with targeting training programs to boost hiring from nearby neighborhoods.
  • The “Live” strategy – already underway – will increase the number of anchor employees living close to work, with incentives administered by the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) for home purchase and renovation in targeted areas.

LISC is taking the lead on initial efforts around the “Buy” strategy, focusing on the potential of small businesses within LISC FOCUS:Works districts, which include the Mass Ave Industrial Corridor (North Mass) and the East Washington Street Corridor as well as the Great Places 2020 neighborhoods, to take advantage of certain procurement opportunities at the anchor institutions. These districts contain a clustering of B2B service providers, small manufacturers, technology companies and food distributors which, if given the opportunity to grow and take on larger contracts, can create additional jobs for residents of surrounding urban neighborhoods. In addition to opening doors at the anchor institutions for small businesses through this initiative, LISC will also work to provide technical assistance, access to capital and other resources that will allow these small businesses to build the capacity necessary to work with large anchor institutions.

“LISC is excited to be part of creating practical ways for anchors to direct more of their purchasing power to benefit neighboring businesses and their employees” – Bill Taft, Executive Director of LISC Indianapolis.

In its role as a key stakeholder in the Hire Indy initiative, the LISC Indianapolis is focused on guiding investments of anchor institutions that enhance workforce participation and economic mobility for eligible workers in urban neighborhoods in Indianapolis. LISC’s work is focused especially on individuals who have weak connections to the labor market and individuals who lack salient opportunities to improve their skills and connect to career pathways that lead to higher wages. LISC emphasizes comprehensive economic development strategies in urban neighborhoods – strategies that identify synergies between investments in businesses and in persons in target neighborhoods and that, subsequently, enhance quality of life in those neighborhoods. Additionally, LISC is a key partner to EmployIndy and Indy Chamber in strategic efforts to improve the efficacy of Marion County’s workforce ecosystem by including a more diverse set of stakeholders into conversations about economic development and inclusive growth in all of Indianapolis’ neighborhoods.

The “Live” strategy targeted areas in some cases overlap with Great Places 2020 or Quality of Life neighborhoods in which LISC has supported the development of revitalization strategies which include a housing component. By providing opportunities for individuals to both work and live in the same neighborhoods, anchor institutions have a unique opportunity to contribute to the vitality of their surrounding areas.

The Anchor Revitalization Program has enlisted some of Indianapolis’ most impactful institutions to participate. These include: Butler University, Community Hospital East, Crown Hill Cemetery Foundation, Eskenazi Health, Health and Hospital Corporation, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Marian University, and University of Indianapolis.