Discovering and applying new and innovative economic development tools, models, policies, and programs
Creating Jobs and Wealth in Distressed Michigan Communities

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Private Consultant

Norman Christopher
Norman Christopher

Norman Christopher recently retired as the Executive Director for the Office of Sustainability Practices at Grand Valley State University. Mr. Christopher remains active in the Grand Rapids community. He is a past chairman of the Family Owned Business Council, a 2000 graduate of the Leadership Grand Rapids Class, and assisted in the formation of the Community Sustainability Partnership in Grand Rapids. He was appointed to serve on Governor Granholm’s Michigan Climate Action Council; and by the United States Department of Commerce to serve on their Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee. He has been a member of the Grand Rapids and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership Leadership Teams. Mr. Christopher serves as Chair of the BIFMA and NSF e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard Joint Committee; and on the board and advisory groups of Seeds of Promise, Valley City Sign, and the Sabal Pointe Condominium Association.

Mr. Christopher earned his BA from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. He also completed the Program for Management Development at Harvard University. He was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Sustainability by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.


This fellowship project will build upon a previous MSU REI student led research project, by exploring other viable social impact and social entrepreneurship community investment strategies that are now available such as Charitable Loan Funds, Social REITS, and Opportunity Zones etc. Case studies will be examined for best efforts so that other Michigan cities, communities, and neighborhoods can collectively learn what type of social impact investment strategy would work best in their community. Mr. Christopher will develop a social impact investment "guidebook or toolkit" to assist foundations and other grant making institutions, community residents, philanthropic donors, social NGOs, as well as local communities and neighborhoods as they seek to increase innovative economic development activities to address specific social impact areas of concern.