Study says library will bring revenue into city

Staff Writer

The University of Chicago commissioned a study that determined a Barack Obama Presidential Library on the South Side would be an economic boon to the city.

The report was done by Anderson Economic Group and completed last month. It studied the economic activity as a result of the coveted library’s construction on the South Side, including operations, construction, additional visitors, employment, earnings and tax revenue.

Each year Chicago would see an additional $220 million in economic impact primarily because of increased tourism. The report estimates it would add 1,900 permanent jobs and increase wage earnings by $56 million.

The city would see 800,000 visitors come to the library each year, including 350,000 visitors from outside Chicagoland. They would spend $31 million on food and retail near the library. The study estimates that would be enough to support 30 new restaurants, 11 retail outlets and a new hotel.

That would mean an additional $110 million spent in Chicago that would not be spent at all otherwise.

Constructing the building could mean a $600 million economic impact on the city, create 3280 jobs and $156 million in wages paid over the course of construction. That analysis estimates constructing the building alone would cost $380 million.

Including taxes on property, sales, restaurants, hotels, parking and car rentals the study estimates that Chicago Public Schools and the City of Chicago could see an additional $5 million in taxes collected.

The study estimated that the Obama library would see twice the number of visitors as the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Regan’s is the most visited presidential library. The authors cited Chicago’s accessibility and its theoretical position as an urban library among the reasons.

The study authors used a conservative methodology to conclude the Obama library would see 800,000 visitors. It noted that the Museum of Science and Industry sees 1.4 million visitors each year.

In a statement about the study Susan Sher, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama and University of Chicago senior advisor to the U. of C. President Robert Zimmer said “The University and its community partners believe private-public partnerships would further amplify the library’s economic and cultural benefits for the South Side and the city.”

Sher is leading the university’s bid for the library.

“The University of Chicago recently has worked with local residents, businesses, elected officials and the City of Chicago in a successful effort to revitalize the key commercial corridor of 53rd Street in Hyde Park. Similar collaborations could help the Obama Presidential Library become an anchor for even broader economic development that creates jobs and enriches quality of life on the South Side,” Sher said in a statement.