The saying “a rising tide lifts all boats” aptly describes the mission of the newly-formed Western Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative. Increasingly, throughout America we are seeing the emergence of anchor collaboratives as a means to make impactful change in our communities. These anchor collaboratives, such as the national Healthcare Anchor Network, bring together the talents and good thinking of organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and universities and colleges to address diversity and equity while building a vibrant local economy.
Now, with the Western Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative, the Pioneer Valley has its own grassroots collective and Bay Path is proud to be part of this initiative. Created through the leadership of the Western Mass Economic Development Council (EDC), the members include Baystate Health, Big Y, The City of Springfield, The City of Holyoke, United Personnel, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Springfield College, Holyoke Community College, Comcast, and Bay Path University.
“I was excited to learn of the opportunity to participate in the Western Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative as it complements our ongoing efforts at Bay Path in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” states Mike Giampietro, vice president for finance and administrative services. “For the 2021 incoming fall class of undergraduate traditional students, 55% were the first in their family to attend college, and 60% are diverse. To better support our students, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, we are committed to fostering a diverse workforce. And throughout our 125-year history, Bay Path has been providing career-based education that is directly tied to current and emerging workplace trends. The goals of the Anchor Collaborative are our goals. It’s a perfect fit.”
According to the EDC, anchor institutions act as regional economic engines: they require consistent, large volume purchases, are significant employers in the region and are investors in their communities. The mission of anchors is to foster equitable communities, strong local economies, jobs and healthier employees and residents, while also addressing their own institutions’ needs around hiring, retention, and internal advancement, as well as resilient local suppliers.
As the Anchor Collaborative begins its work, each institution will determine baselines and set multi-year targets to increase overall local purchasing with an emphasis on women and minority-owned businesses, which in turn will increase contracts for local businesses and help grow women and minority-owned businesses. Similar baselines and targets will drive hiring and promotions for under-represented populations within their institutions. As the Anchor Collaborative grows, it will partner with foundations, public, and private organizations to fund local business development, skills training, and job creation.
Ultimately, the Western Mass Anchor Collaborative will provide a win-win scenario for all: helping our local communities to thrive while addressing the critical needs of the Anchor Collaborative members.