U3 Advisors first began working in Detroit in 2009, when a group of local philanthropies engaged U3 to assess if there was an opportunity for Detroit’s anchor institutions — its Eds and Meds — to have a greater economic impact on the city. Through a data driven approach, U3 Advisors concluded that there was tremendous potential to capture the anchors’ economic impact within the city, and accordingly created a place-based economic development strategy that defined Midtown as the urban core of the city. Subsequent analysis and visioning resulted in several major initiatives.
U3 Advisors spent three years in Northwest Detroit planning and launching an anchor strategy in partnership with University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) the Kresge Foundation. The Live6 Alliance launched in September, 2015 as a new entity focused on the commercial corridors surrounding the UDM campus that are severely disinvested, but could potentially support the diverse surrounding neighborhoods and improve quality of life for residents. The strategy includes focusing on real estate development, placemaking, business attraction and retention, community engagement, and safety.
U3 Advisors and Sasaki were selected in summer 2016 to develop an innovation district master plan for Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus, located in Mesa, AZ. As part of its work, U3A conducted market and demographic analysis, defined the value proposition for the Polytechnic campus, identified partnership opportunities with the private sector and allied industries, and prepared an implementation and funding strategy for the district.