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Obama Library Study Sheds Light on Economic Benefits for Chicago’s South Side

Deborah Bayliss | 6/4/2014, 3:27 p.m.
Now might be a good time to start that business venture you’ve been thinking about especially since a study commissioned ...
First Lady, Michelle and President Barack Obama seen here on their wedding day, will decide what items will go on display in the Barack Obama Presidential Library.

Now might be a good time to start that business venture you’ve been thinking about especially since a study commissioned by the University of Chicago ( U of C) and carried out by an economics research firm concluded that a Barack Obama Presidential Library would provide a “significant economic boon to Chicago’s South side and the city.”

Completed in April by Anderson Economic Group, who estimated the future economic activity due exclusively to the library would not only increase tax revenue for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools but also create library construction and library operations jobs and also increase profits for hotels, retail, transportation, restaurants and other area businesses.

· The annual economic impact to the City of Chicago would be $220 million, due primarily to an increase in visitors to the city and will create 1,900 permanent new jobs, increasing annual local earnings by $56 million.

· The study estimates that 800,000 visitors will come to the library each year, including 350,000 visitors from outside the Chicago area who would bring additional spending of $31 million on food and retail to the neighborhood near the library, enough to support 30 new restaurants, 11 new retail outlets and a new hotel. Visitors to the city would spend about $110 million in the city that would not be spent otherwise.

· Construction of the library would have a $600 million economic impact on the city and would create 3,280 local jobs for a total of $156 million in earnings over the course of the construction project. The analysis projected that construction alone would cost $380 million—based on costs of other presidential libraries, anticipated features of the Obama Presidential Library, and the Chicago construction market. The construction costs plus other indirect expenditures would provide a total of $600 million in economic impact.

· The library would help the city's fiscal position; tax collections to the city and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would increase by $5 million annually, including such taxes as property, sales, restaurant, hotel, parking, and car rental.

A wide range of entrepreneurial opportunities exist within the establishment of an Obama Library.

Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association (CBA), a small business resource center that offers an array of customized services and programs designed to assist businesses with expansion and growth, strategic planning, technical training, workshops, access to capital assistance, marketing and government certification, said regardless of what area of the Obama Library study was focused on the south side, the library would provide, quite a bit of economic opportunity.

“Competition is going to be stiff, which is all the more reason for business owners to be ready (to capitalize on opportunities). Small businesses should definitely be assessing their financials and building their capacity and defining a clear path to get to the next step so they know where they are and are ready to do business. Business owners need to make sure their profit margins are able to move them to the next step.”

William Garth, publisher of the Chicago Citizen Newspaper and CBA chairman said, “We have to teach our youth to be entrepreneurs. The Chatham area will benefit the most in addition to Hyde Park, in terms of an Obama Library.”