I have been using this term more often lately which made me think about if I am using the term correctly and conveying my intended meaning. Upon reflection, I like this term. For me it refers to large, anchor companies in a community like a pulp mill or a large manufacturing plant or even a large hospital.
The metaphor works well as both a positive: stable, long standing firms that anchor a community’s economy and as a negative: holds a community back, allows complacency to set in. Consider the former CN Shops in Moncton.