We Need the OPC

As a community member, I strongly support the OPC and look forward to the transformation it will bring.

By Josef Michael Carr

Dear Editor,

The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is an exciting opportunity for the South Side of Chicago. It has potential benefits for all of the four communities immediately surrounding it.

As a youth, I grew up in Woodlawn. My wife, Kyra, and I met as tour guides at the Museum of Science and Industry. We had our first child while we lived in Hyde Park. Now, our family lives in the South Shore community. I have seen these neighborhoods in the best of times and the worst of times.

I strongly support the OPC being located in Jackson Park. Through job creation, youth programming, and landscape beautification, the Obama Center can become a hub for its neighbors. Not since the World’s Columbian Exposition will Chicago have attracted the global attention and perpetual tourism that the OPC would bring in. An estimated 700,000 people will visit the OPC every year, which will contribute retail and hospitality tax revenue to the city’s general fund.

The OPC will also be an immediate job creator by providing journeyman programs to our communities’ youth and hiring minority contractors to double the rate (from 26 percent to 50 percent) of minority construction projects required by the City of Chicago.

Most of all, the OPC will draw attention to the cultural heritage and vibrancy of Chicago’s South Side and African-American communities, which nourished and shaped our 44th president and his family.

Our communities, the city of Chicago, and the state of Illinois need the forecasted benefits of the Obama Foundation and the Obama Presidential Center.

Josef Michael Carr is a South Shore resident and the owner of a boutique financial accounting and political consulting firm.