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SECC Primary News

The latest news and hot topics impacting our local south side communities.

Obama Presidential Library Creates Competitive Interests

Monday, February 03, 2014

On January 31, 2014 the Barack H. Obama Foundation was established to oversee planning for President Obama’s future presidential library.

Incorporation papers for the newly created Barack H. Obama Foundation were filed in Washington, D.C. to manage the competitive selection process with the target date of picking a site early in 2015.

The foundation is led by Chicagoan Martin Nesbitt, the co-CEO of The Vistria Group and treasurer of Obama’s two White House campaigns; Julianna Smoot, a co-chair of the 2012 re-election bid and the 2008 National Finance Director and J. Kevin Poorman, the Wilmette businessman who took over several companies run by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when she stepped down to join Obama’s cabinet.

The foundation is “tasked with planning the development of a Presidential Library that reflects President Obama’s values and priorities throughout his career in public service: expanding economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of American citizenship, and promoting peace, justice and dignity throughout the world.

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer says “I strongly believe the Obama Presidential Library should be located in one of our neighboring communities on the South Side of Chicago. Such a location would reflect the personal and professional lives of the Obamas, as well as their commitments to society. A presidential library would mark a watershed moment for the area in which we live and work, bringing significant economic, cultural, and programmatic opportunities.”

A University faculty committed was developed to examine presidential libraries across the nation.  At the end of 2013, the faculty committee concluded that it would be in the interest of the University to support the library’s location on the South Side of Chicago.

 “It would serve as a strong catalyst, generating substantial, sustained economic opportunity and programs for the residents of the city in general and of the South Side in particular. It also has the potential to establish substantive community programming and provide access to materials that would be of significant interest and value to our faculty and students,” says President Zimmer.

Can the University of Chicago lead the way for a partnership with community leaders, cultural and educational institutions, and the City of Chicago?  The answer is a little more challenging considering the other interests around the city.

The University of Illinois at Chicago continues to work on its own bid for an Obama presidential library while Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s continues efforts to craft a unified bid to bring a presidential library and museum to Chicago.