Members of an Illinois House committee voted unanimously on April 17, to advance a bill to the floor that will designate $100 million for the potential construction of President Barack Obama’s library in Chicago.
Supporters of the bill, including co-sponsors House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (22nd) and state Rep. Monique Davis (27th), said the money will bolster Chicago’s chances when a final proposal is submitted to Obama’s library committee in June.
“A $100 million investment would be a reasonable down-payment compared to the economic impact it would have,” said Susan Sher, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama. “The Clinton library has already had over a $2 billion impact on the Little Rock economy.”
One area that needs the economic boom, according to supporters who testified at the Bilandic Building, is the South Side.
“The presidential library would bring hope not only to Chicago’s South Side, but to Chicago period — this could change the economic imbalance within the city,” said Dennis Johnson, student government association president at Chicago State University.
The president’s and First Lady’s roots in the South Side also warrant the library location there, added Davis.
“This is where they met; this is where they worked; this is where their children were born; this is where they went to church. This is their city,” she said.
Illinois faces potential competition from Hawaii, where Obama was born, and New York, where the president attended Columbia University, which both have expressed interest the library.
Madigan urged committee members to narrow the location choice before a final proposal is submitted by the city.
“Today will be a very good start to a process, which is underway and is continuing,” he said.
The Barack H. Obama Foundation is expected to announce a decision by the president and his wife in early 2015.