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The City, the College and the Hospital

<p>This article from <em>Governing</em> looks at the role of higher education and medical facilities in keeping urban areas alive.</p>
May 14, 2008, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"In an era when technological know-how and innovation have become prime economic drivers, 'eds and meds' have become indispensable anchors of urban growth. 'In many respects,' a report by CEOs for Cities and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City commented a few years ago, 'the bell towers of academic institutions have replaced smokestacks as the drivers of the American urban economy.'"

"Yet until relatively recently, most universities and the cities surrounding them went about their business without taking full stock of what each meant to the other. Many local and state government leaders, notes Temple University political scientist Carolyn Adams, "don't see these institutions as having an economic development function much beyond employment and land development." For their part, hospitals and academic institutions aren't accustomed to thinking of themselves as de facto economic bigwigs or pondering the responsibilities that go along with that status; for many, the prevailing attitude toward the communities that host them has essentially been, 'You should just thank your lucky stars we're here.'"

"And to a degree, of course, they're right. A 1999 Brookings Institution report by University of Pennsylvania historian Ira Harkavy and Harmon Zuckerman - now the chief planner for Douglas County, Nevada - found that in the 20 largest U.S. cities, "eds and meds" accounted for 35 percent of the workforce employed by the top 10 private employers; in many cities, a university or medical system was the largest private employer, and in four of them - Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Diego and Baltimore - medical systems and universities generated more than half the jobs among the 10 largest private employers."

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Published on Thursday, May 1, 2008 in Governing
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