Anchored in place: Community wealth and vitality

Metropolitan State University, like our peers nationally, put their anchor institution into practice through the three Ps: procurement, personnel and place-making.

Procurement

The University is revising its procurement processes, analyzing its spending data to determine where there’s potential to shift institutional purchases to local vendors, and tapping partnerships with community economic development groups to identify and assist those local businesses to compete for university purchases and service contracts. A pilot effort initiated by the Hmong American Farmers Association aims to create new markets for Hmong farmers who live on the East Side by connecting them to the university’s catering vendors, simultaneously increasing income in low-wealth households and strengthening the local economy. The HAFA partnership and the university’s participation in the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP), a group education and medical institutions pursuing collective community impact in low-wealth neighborhoods along Metro Transit’s Green Line between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, help drive these institutional changes.

Personnel

The University shares the goal of community leaders advancing equity in employment. As a non-residential campus, Metropolitan State offers limited opportunities for those who face the greatest barriers to employment. Rather, working with CCAP, the university helps shape pathways to employment through career laddering in high-demand health science professions. In addition, the university leverages its employer relationships and expertise in State hiring processes to enhance the effectiveness of the East Side Employment Xchange, a dynamic, culturally-diverse group of employment assistance agencies that grew out of a broader grassroots wealth-building collaborative, the East Side Economic Growth Initiative.

Place-making

Broadly speaking, place-making taps the knowledge, creativity and assets of community and university actors to collaboratively solve public problems. University and community actors have joined forces to strengthen the physical and social fabric of our community in many ways, including:

  • raising funds to build a joint university-community library, resulting in Metropolitan State’s first (and only) campus library and the first Saint Paul Public Library in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, where residents also have access to the university’s collection and joint educational programs;
  • the emerging creation of a community-university hub, the GROW-IT Center, focused on urban agriculture, healthy food access and sustainability; and
  • implementation of cooperatively-planned traffic calming and beautification on local streets.

In addition, the university waives rental fees for the use of campus facilities, valued at approximately $75,000 per year, for co-sponsored programs involving community partners with whom we enjoy an ongoing, mutually-beneficial learning exchange.