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Friday, Nov 28, 2014
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7 months, 1 week ago from Associated Press

Lawmakers offer state construction funds in hopes of landing library in Chicago

From from Associated Press:

Even though Chicago is where Barack Obama got his start in politics, first lady Michelle Obama grew up and the Obamas still call their hometown, state and local officials aren't taking for granted that the Windy City will land the president's official library.

Illinois legislators advanced a plan Thursday to devote $100 million in state construction funds to bring the Obama presidential library and museum to Chicago. Lawmakers said the money was intended to sweeten a city bid, noting that Hawaii, where Obama was born, and New York, where he attended college, also are interested in housing the presidential artifacts and records.

A nonprofit foundation launched by Obama backers with the president's support has asked parties interested in hosting the library to submit proposals by June 16.

"We are not going to rely on the president's affinity for the city of Chicago," Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, said during a legislative hearing in Chicago. "We will be subtle in our reminder where his family is from, where he started his career. But we want to be very competitive in making sure this library and this foundation come back to the city of Chicago."

Emanuel and representatives from a handful of Chicago universities that want to host the library said the investment would return dividends by attracting tourists and new development such as hotels and restaurants.

Susan Sher, the first lady's former chief of staff who is now leading the University of Chicago's efforts to land the library, said it could have a "transformative effect" on South Side neighborhoods that are struggling economically by creating jobs, programs for youth and cultural partnerships.

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