Regeneration through Collaboration
The Newark Alliance
U3 Advisors played an essential role in creating an Anchor Strategy in Newark that aligned sixteen major institutions around a single common vision: rejuvenate the city’s distressed downtown core by leveraging their purchasing power, employee housing demand, economic activity, and missions.
Newark, New Jersey – the state’s largest city and a close neighbor to New York City – had struggled for years as its population declined, robbing the community of its tax base and its downtown core of most of its economic vibrancy. By the mid-2010s, downtown had the lowest population density of anywhere in the metropolitan region, making any kind of retail economy nearly impossible to sustain.
Nevertheless, some traditional Newark institutions refused to give up on the city, and in fact saw a great deal of potential – assuming enough partners could be identified to work together. Prudential, the downtown Newark-based financial institution, was the first anchor in this process, taking the early organizational steps to create what soon became known as the Newark Alliance.
U3 Advisors partnered closely with Prudential’s Foundation and others to ensure that the Newark Alliance had the capacity and momentum it needed to be effective. The Alliance soon grew to include more than a dozen organizations and institutions, including Audible, Mars Wrigley, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Horizon BlueCross BlueShield of New Jersey, and Wells Fargo, among many others. New Jersey from in and around Newark’s center city, representing some $17 billion in potential purchasing activity.
Members of the Newark Alliance, as well as vendors and families in their immediate vicinity, benefited from U3’s expertise in crafting highly localized procurement and housing strategies. The Alliance’s Live Local program, designed and implemented by U3 Advisors, was particularly effective: by estimating potential housing demand and coordinating recruitment incentives, the Alliance’s members succeeded in attracting more than 200 new residents to Newark’s downtown over the course of one year through targeted incentives. This increase in new downtowners was a meaningful step in reversing a decades-long pattern of depopulation and disinvestment in the urban core, and each new household brought additional disposable income which bolstered locally-owned small businesses in the area.
2020 also saw the completion of an in-depth procurement analysis by U3 for the Alliance’s members, which resulted in a comprehensive database of local companies as well as a strategic “roadmap” for how institutions could guide their spending and purchasing processes to benefit more of these hometown businesses.
U3’s engagement with Newark Alliance continued in 2022 with U3 supporting the Alliance on fully launching the BuyNewark effort and implementing the recommendations coming out of the 2020 Newark Anchor Collaborative Procurement Analysis report by providing strategic advisory, staff extension, data analysis, and capacity building support. U3’s advisory and support allowed the Newark Alliance to more fully leverage the BuyNewark Program Manager to focus on the most important goals of this effort and on advancing racial equity.This work has bolstered commitments by many of the long-term and new Anchors in Downtown Newark.
Today, while the resurgence of the city’s downtown is still a work in progress, the Newark Alliance has a full-time team of professionals and a highly engaged board of directors to guide its next steps. U3’s expertise and unique approach have helped stakeholders there realize the untapped value of their assets – including their people – and used them to craft an actionable plan for Newark’s next chapter.