Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the new presidential library in Chicago, commemorating Obama’s leadership and honoring his legacy.
The project is estimated to generate $3.1 billion for the South Side community and stimulate economic growth. The grand opening is yet to be announced.
The project will include a museum, the first fully-digitized presidential library and a new Chicago Public Library branch and garden. According to Obama.org, this space will not only provide up to 5,000 direct and indirect jobs but also opportunities for the communities on Chicago’s South Side.
The unemployment rate on the South Side is 13.7% compared to the city of Chicago’s 7.3%. According to Obama.org, the Obama Foundation is collaborating with Lakeside Alliance to create a diverse workforce of construction workers. Four out of the five construction firms are local and minority owned firms.
Obama’s project was announced in 2015, but it was delayed multiple times due to environmentalists suing to block construction in Jackson Park, according to Forbes. They argued it shouldn't be built on public land, but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. In August, Protect Our Parks filed a motion to stop construction, but Judge John Robert Blakey denied the plea.
Obama said the ceremony taking place on the South Side of Chicago is significant because it was where he met and married Michelle, started his political career and was where their daughters were born.
“It is surrounded by vibrant neighborhoods and a community where we believe we can help make a difference,” Obama said during the ceremony.