Courtesy Photo-The Fledge
The Equalizer is real, and he works and operates here in Lansing. Most of us enjoyed watching a movie series titled "the equalizer" on the silver screen. Recently, a television series with the same name is airing Sunday evenings. Witty quips aside, a former mathematician turned entrepreneur and avenging Angel Jerry Norris created "The Fledge." His concept blend his math skills and his ability to fight for those in need of a champion. "We don't have a business model that predicts the next twenty years," said Norris. "Our model creates chaos and lets things present themselves; then we harvest."
Norris earned his degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. Norris is also homegrown. He was born in Lansing, Michigan. Norris worked in management systems and system building within corporations all over the world for 35 years. So, Norris decided to use a systems thinking model to create and operate The Fledge. “I create systems which withstand themselves inside bigger systems,” explained Norris. Norris started his first incubator style company in Grand Rapids called Cascade Engineering in 1998. He also ran a music and art incubator out of his home in Grand Rapids. He also started a skateboard-related incubator during the same time-frame. Out of the skateboard, incubator grew The Fledge.
Courtesy Photo-The Fledge
Norris is a real-life equalizer. He has both for-profit and non-profit functions in his creation. The Fledge, LLC (2015) and The Fledge Foundation (2018). The mission statements for both areas of his business concept speak for themselves. In a nutshell, The Fledge takes people's ideas and then helps people realize their dreams. "But," explained Norris. "We can do this for people that are ready for this." The mission statement for The Fledge is to create opportunities to pursue happiness, and the mission statement of the foundation is to fight for liberty and justice for all.
Courtesy Photo-Jerry Norris The Fledge
The name "The Fledge" came from two sources. The company started in Grand Ledge, and Norris rhymed Ledge and Fledge. But, to fledge a bird means to give it the where with all to fly. "So, we fledge people," said Norris. The Fledge is a church that was built in 1926. It’s 11,000 square feet. Norris purchased the old church in 2018. Norris noted that he had been operating the fledge out of Grand Ledge prior for the last three years. “We are just crossing the midway point where we have been in Lansing longer than we were in Grand Ledge,” said Norris.
"The Fledge is anything from fashion studios, sewing machines, screen printing, 3-D printing, programming, computers, music studios, drones, and desktop CNCs," explained Norris. "We have a stage that's plug and play for virtual broadcasting of live events. We have a free store where we give out food in the food pantry. We’ve given out over 100,000 meals since the start of the Pandemic. We give out clothing. We grow food, starter plants, and we help anybody do whatever it is they need to do to kind of push their needle forward."
People like an MSU professor with a high-tech company or someone from the neighborhood with an idea and want to get a paten are typical clients for The Fledge. The Fledge also helps people on a more personal level. "We try to meet people wherever they're at and help walk a journey to wherever they want to go," said Norris. "One of the bigger picture issues that we see," said Norris, "is that the American dream isn't really for everyone. Especially if you're black, brown, or poor. Our goal is to even the playing field." For more information, log on to www.thefledge.com.