Cornell University

What is the High Road?

The term High Road economic development refers to policies and practices that advance economic vitality, sustainability, and equitable economic opportunity through innovation, productivity improvement, high skill-high wage jobs, environmental responsibility, efficient resource utilization, productive investment, and strong communities.

High Road approaches are characterized by democratic and transparent policy development, public-private partnerships, effective workforce development, labor-management cooperation, and a focus on investments in the public good.

Understood as rational alternatives to economic choices based on short-term profits, low-wage competition, financial speculation, and exploitation of natural and human resources, the High Road is seen as a path to improved productive capacity and well-being on a global scale, driven by new forms of cooperation and invention at the local level all around the world.

Rooted in the traditional concept of "high road" as an ethically superior choice over "low road" ways, this economic development application originates in the research and policy initiatives of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) at the University of Wisconsin. COWS director Joel Rogers explains, "Since our founding in 1991, COWS has promoted 'high road' solutions to social problems. These treat fairness and equal opportunity, environmental sustainability, and strong and resilient democratic institutions as necessary and achievable complements in human development."

The High Road Runs through the City summer fellowships give ILR students a unique opportunity to explore the rich variety of creative organizations and enterprises that are working to transform Greater Buffalo from rust belt to a new, green, high road economy.