Leveraging Position as an Economic Anchor to Improve Health Equity
Rural health organizations, such as rural hospitals and clinics, often play critical roles in the economic and
social vitality of their communities. These organizations can explore ways to leverage their position as
economic anchors to contribute to community development and promote economic inclusion of communities that
experience health inequities. For example, rural organizations could examine their purchasing and contracting
practices and investigate opportunities to engage businesses owned by communities that experience inequities.
The Communities in Action:
Pathways to Health Equity initiative provides additional information about how anchor institutions can
influence health equity. Approaches include:
Hiring and retaining local staff, especially those who reflect local communities that experience
Paying staff a fair and living wage
Contracting with diverse and local organizations
Investing in initiatives that affect upstream determinants of health, such as housing and community
Examples of Communities Leveraging their Position as Economic Anchors
The American Hospital Association explored how
Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia, is investing in community initiatives to advance health
equity. A key aspect of their community development strategy is funding education in their rural service
region. In addition, Carilion partners with local businesses to promote employment opportunities for
graduates of the education programs they fund.
Food Bank of Southern Arizona (CFB) has built
extensive partnerships to meet the needs of the rural
border communities they serve. CFB started the Farm-to-Institution program to increase access to local
produce and invest in local businesses. The program connects local small and midsize farms to other anchor
institutions, like the Tucson Medical Center.
Questions for Consideration
What role does my organization play in the local economy? How does my organization influence local
Do our community investments address upstream factors that affect health equity?
Are we using equitable contracting and procurement practices?
Resources to Learn More
for Equity Best Local Government Practices that Advance Racial Equity in Government Contracting and
Describes approaches to equitable contracting that local governments can employ.
Organization(s): Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
Community Health by Strengthening Community Investment
Describes how hospitals and health systems are investing in the communities they serve to address social
determinants of health.
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation