States and Cities

MIP Webcast – Mary Kay Leonard, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

Economic development budgets (like all budgets) are limited, but there’s a lot of demand from the private sector for help from public sector. Learn how to target your efforts in this webcast from COWS' Mayors Innovation Project.

Building high-road cities, metropolitan regions, and states is both good for citizens and a key way to move the national dialogue toward progressive policy solutions. Much of our work is focused on sharing high-road policy and governance (that is, policy that promotes shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and efficient democratic government) with state and local leaders. Around the country, these state and local elected officials are taking the lead on pressing social issues – climate change, infrastructure, economic revitalization, health care, criminal justice, and more. COWS supports and encourages this innovation by providing cutting-edge thinking and concrete examples that leaders can use right away.


We work directly with executives at the state and local level on a range of issues, but also house projects specializing in transportation and energy efficiency



  • America's challenges demand bold progressive leadership from states, and the Center for State Innovation helps governors and other state executives meet this leadership challenge. Working with a network of experts on state government – think tanks, universities, former state officials, technical assistance providors, and others – it provides evidence based, performance driven, and fiscally prudent progressive policy options in most areas of state policy; assistance in their implementation; and argument for and policy guidance on better functioning cooperative federalism.
  • The Mayors Innovation Project is a learning network among American mayors committed to "high road" policy and governance: shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, efficient democratic government.
  • Retrofitting the nation's public and institutional buildings for greater energy efficiency, financing these retrofits from the savings achieved, and requiring local hire and job advancement standards for those who do the work can provide the widespread high-road job creation needed in today's economy. COWS works with cities, states and other NGOs to promote Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings by providing policy research and analysis as well as technical assistance on energy efficiency program design, implementation, and financing. Please email Satya Rhodes Conway for more information.
  • COWS is a leader in Innovative Energy Efficiency Programs for Cities, consulting with municipalities around the country to help establish whole-house retrofit programs that save energy and create jobs. COWS staff provide technical assistance on energy efficiency program design, implementation, and financing. Please email Satya Rhodes-Conway.
  • The Efficiency Cities Network is an informal policy learning network of government staff, researchers and tecnical asssistance providers, and NGOs currently active in or committed to making scaled efforts at high-road energy retrofits of urban building stock. We have convened over 1,000 people to share best practices in high-road energy efficiency policy and program design. We host bi-weekly calls on topics ranging from financing, to program design and case studies, to outreach strategies and marketing. Anyone who wants to learn or contribute to these discussions is welcome.
  • The Emerald Cities Collaborative is a national group working to create high-road energy efficiency programs in ten major cities nationwide. COWS was a co-founder of the organization and is a leader in the Milwaukee Network.
  • Working with CEOs at state DOTs, the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) promotes "smart transportation" practices that promote environmental sustainability and equitable economic development while maintaining high standards of governmental efficiency and transparency.