How can universities be more intentional about their roles in local economies?

By: | October 13, 2020

University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia’s University City. John Hopkins University and much of Baltimore city. The dichotomy and interdependence between a city and neighborhood that a university resides can often be summed up by the expression “town and gown” — there are the residents, and then there’s the academic population, and the two are distinct.

John Hopkins is Baltimore’s biggest employer. A 2019 list put its university and health system as the top-two biggest employers with 27,300 employees and 23,470 employees, respectively. Put that together, and over 50,000 jobs fall under the John Hopkins umbrella. And in Philadelphia, Penn, Thomas Jefferson University and their health systems are the city’s biggest employers with 41,676 and 30,500, respectively.

Yet it’s not only in direct employment where universities have economic impact. As they support the commercialization of technology being created by faculty and galvanize entrepreneurship among students, universities are playing a role in new business creation.

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