Fall 2014 - 62415 - PA680PA - Policy Research Project

Anchor Institutions, Innovation & the City of Austin
Background:  Anchor institutions, most often higher education and healthcare entities, have been important actors in city development throughout US history.  Currently, many in our country are re-examining the definition and roles of anchor institutions in our communities.  For instance, some are broadening the definition of anchor institutions to include arts and sports entities and utilities, and their associated community roles. Simultaneously, innovation districts are on the rise in communities in the US and abroad.  This policy research project will examine the role of anchor institutions in Austin policy and planning, and the newly formed City of Austin Innovation Zone and Innovation District Advisory Board. We also will draw on the experiences of other communities across the nation with anchor institutions and innovation districts.  Our client is the Office of Sustainability at the University of Texas at Austin.   Purpose of Project and Key Issues:  It is no secret that Austin is booming, and that the City is facing important challenges in mobility, affordability, sustainability and equity. With the development of the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the Waller Creek redevelopment, the Eastern portion of Downtown Austin will change dramatically.  Additionally, the Airport Boulevard/Highland Mall area of Austin will change significantly with the planned Airport Boulevard redesign, and the Austin Community College repurposing of Highland Mall. We will analyze these new developments in Austin with a focus on the roles of anchor institutions and innovation districts and their relationship to the Austin’s important challenges. Furthermore, our research will include an examination of anchor institutions and innovation districts in other communities such as: Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Portland and Syracuse.   Deliverables:  Participating students will produce the following products: (1) a research plan; (2) a data set of anchor institutions and innovation districts in Austin and other selected cities; (3) a preliminary analysis of anchor institutions and innovation districts in Austin and the other selected cities; (4) a final, professional report that will be published and (5) a culminating panel presentation on the topic at a symposium that students will help plan as part of LBJ Schools events for the 50 on 50 celebration of LBJ’s legacy.