From left, President Obama, former president George W. Bush, former president Bill Clinton, former president George H.W. Bush and former president Jimmy Carter arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. / David J. Phillip, AP
One of the leading contenders vying to host the future Barack Obama presidential library projects that winning the project would mean a $220 million annual impact for the city of Chicago and would create nearly 2,000 permanent jobs.
The economic impact study - conducted by the Anderson Economic Group at the behest of the University of Chicago - says construction alone would have a $600 million impact on the city. It predicts that 800,000 visitors will be drawn annually to the library and museum.
From May 2013, when it opened its doors, through January 2014, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has had 330,000 visitors, and library officials in Texas project 440,000 visitors for the library's first full year.
The impact study says, "Due to the historical significance of Obama's presidency," the library and museum "will be a tourist attraction for reasons that other presidential libraries cannot claim." The authors of the impact study note that Chicago, as the third-largest city in the USA and an established tourist destination, would be the "first truly urban presidential library" if it was selected.
The university's consultants also looked at attendance at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, which draws 700,000 annually, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis - a smaller city that draws significantly fewer visitors than Chicago - to help inform their projections for a future Obama library.
The University of Chicago published the study as it, along with other universities in Chicago, Honolulu and New York, prepare to submit their bids for the Obama library before the deadline of June 16.
The university has deep ties to the Obamas. The president served as senior lecturer at the law school before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and first lady Michelle Obama was an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The study comes as the university faces pressure from community activists, who are calling on Obama to rule out the University of Chicago as a candidate for the library unless it restores adult trauma care at its hospital. The issue has been a long-running source of tension between the community and the university, which shuttered its adult trauma center more than 25 years ago because of costs.
Earlier Monday, University of Chicago police removed seven trauma center protesters, who had chained themselves to machinery and blocked cement trucks at a campus construction site.
University officials stressed that the library would not just be an honor for them but would also be a huge economic boon for the surrounding South Side communities. Visitors would bring additional spending of $31 million on food and retail to the neighborhood near the library, which would be enough to support 30 new restaurants, 11 new retail outlets and a new hotel, according to the impact study.
"The library presents an incredible opportunity to make further progress on the kind of economic development that South Side residents and leaders have sought for many years," said Susan Sher, a former White House aide helping direct the University of Chicago's bid for the library.
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Read the original story: University offers rosy projection for Obama library