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NIU’s Norman Walzer recognized by IML for lifetime service

October 2, 2019

Norm Walzer

Norman Walzer, senior research scholar at NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), received an Illinois Municipal League (IML) award in “Recognition of a Lifetime of Service.”

According to IML officials, “It’s a very special award in that it is not given every year – the last time it was given was in 2016. This was only the fourth time we’ve presented this award.”

While surprising Walzer with the award at a recent conference in Chicago, IML Executive Director Brad Cole said, “In his role at NIU, Norm has helped local groups find ways to stimulate collaboration in an effort to reduce reliance on property taxes through the Local Efficiency Assessment Process (LEAP) that he and Andy Blanke created.

Cole continued, “In 1969, as a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Norm started his work on creating a Municipal Price Index. Mayors began using it in working with contracts for services to show how prices had increased. It was first published in August 1969, in the IML Review magazine and has been updated annually since. In addition to the Municipal Price Index, Norm is a regular contributor to our IML Review magazine and our annual Illinois Municipal Policy Journal.”

Walzer, who earned a Ph.D. degree in economics, started at CGS in 2008, after retiring as founding director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs located at Western Illinois University (WIU). At WIU, he had served as professor and chair of the Department of Economics and then as dean of the College of Business and Technology.

At CGS, Walzer serves on the Community Work Force and Economic Development team conducting applied economic research and assisting state and local governments on policy issues. Areas of expertise include rural community and economic development, governmental structure and local public finance, entrepreneurship in both private and public agencies, and community strategic planning/visioning.

CGS Director Diana Robinson said, “Norm has been applying his research to real-world problems throughout his career. We are fortunate that he continues his work in benefit of the region and the state from NIU.” 

Walzer is a past president of the Community Development Society and has published regularly in the scholarly and professional literature on these issues. His current research involves community supported enterprises and how they preserve or expand social capital. He advised the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Opportunity in preparing a five-year Statewide Economic Development Plan (2014) and led a CGS team that staffed the Governmental Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force (2015). Walzer serves on the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and continues to research best practices in governmental structure and public service delivery.

The Illinois Municipal League, founded in 1913, is the official voice for Illinois municipalities.