An editorial in Artvoice discusses some salient themes for economic development in Buffalo and Upstate New York that will be the focus of an upcoming conference on September 27-28 in downtown Buffalo called “The High Road Runs Through the City.” The essay begins with some surprising news to me at least that Buffalo was now according to the federal government the second poorest city in the nation (here’s an alternative news source WNED News). Here are some of the main speakers and brief summary of their ideas on economic development from the editorial:
The keynote speaker is global warming activist and author Bill McKibben, whose latest book, Deep Economy, argues for economies built not on growth but on sustainability, not on globalization but on localism, not on “more” but on “better.” Other speakers include Patricia Smith, the New York Commissioner of Labor; Jen Kern, the nation’s leading living wage advocate; and J. Phillip Thompson III, whose book Double Trouble explores the dilemmas of African-American mayors in impoverished cities.
Greg LeRoy, another speaker, is the founder of Good Jobs First and the author of The Great American Jobs Scam, which argues persuasively that states and cities are wasting enormous resources by offering tax subsidies to big corporations in return for promises of jobs. According to LeRoy’s extensive evidence, companies almost never base location decisions on tax subsidies; more often, they decide where they want to locate, and then milk the government for the maximum amount of subsidies by pretending to consider other locations.
The conference also features Wisconsin professor Joel Rogers, one of the inventors of the term “high road economic development,” which he defines as “high-wage, low-waste, worker-friendly, and publicly-accountable.” Rogers has written several books outlining pragmatic steps toward the high road and has organized a group of progressive mayors who are putting high road ideas to the test.
Anyone who frequents to read this blog should take the time to read through the Artvoice article; it hits on several important points that are important not only for Buffalo but for the entire Upstate New York Region. (I wish I had time to discuss it more in depth, but I have kids who need to get to school…)