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Catalyst Institute was the successor of the think tank the Mid America Institute for Public Policy Research in Chicago. The Mid America Institute (sometimes written as 'Midamerica Institute') was co-founded in 1984 by Roger C. Kormendi. Although Paul R. Knapp claimed that he founded Catalyst Institute in 1991 , Atlas Economic Research Foundation wrote in 1993:
- Midamerica Institute (Chicago, IL) has changed its name to Catalyst Institute to emphasize its role in the "improvement of public policy and business decisions affecting financial markets and institutions." The office will be relocating within Chicago's Loop area this summer. 
In the last 990 form for 2000 was written:
- The Board of Directors of Catalyst Institute on June 13, 2000 approved a resolution that the Company be completely liquidated on or prior to December 31, 2000 in accordance with all applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and that the assets of Catalyst Institute be distributed in accordance with the Illinois Not-For-Profit Corporation Act of 1986, as amended.
The liquidation was successfully completed. 
Capital Research Center reported that Catalyst Institute received $331,350 in the period 1997-2001 from organizations like AT&T Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and General Motors Foundation. 
Board in 1997
- James L. Cochrane
- Anne Wood Farmer
- Case Hoogendoorn
- Manuel H. Johnson
- Paul R. Knapp, President
- J. Carter Beese, Jr.
- Joseph S. Carr
- Michael Hofmann
- Adlai E. Stevenson
- Didier Varlet
- Gus R. LeDonne, Treasurer
- Leo Melamed