Hosting a Success, But Let’s Not Do That Again

May 24, 2012

Congratulations, Chicago. The NATO Summit and all its hoopla has come and gone without any major incidences.

In case you have been living under a rock, you can learn all about Chicago becoming the first city in the United States outside of Washington D.C. to host the NATO Summit by clicking this Chicago real estate link.

By now, the national and international leaders, press and protesters have cleared out of town with our city still intact.

So, was bringing the NATO Summit to Chicago worth it? Let’s take a look.

*Chicago real estate: Our businesses and homes are still standing — though three men were arrested for plotting to attack Obama’s campaign headquarters, several police stations and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, the same residence that about 400 protestors chose to demonstrate in front of over the weekend.

*Chicago record: Our city hosted the largest anti-NATO demonstration in history. It spanned four city blocks along State Street and involved 10,000-15,000 protesters, much more than the 3,000 police had expected.

*Chicago arrests: There were 91 NATO-related arrests over the past week, but more than half of them were from out of state, and only eight were charged with a felony. Most received a municipal violation, paid a fine to the city and were released.

*Chicago police: Pictures circulated of our men-in-blue billy clubbing protesters, but Chicago police mostly kept their cool while demonstrators utilized their freedom of speech. As a thank you for their hard work, each officer is getting two tickets to a Chicago White Sox game.

*Chicago economy: Organizers predicted the summit would pump $128.2 million into Chicago’s economy, and though numbers are in yet, chances are it’s not even going to be close. Of the downtown retail stores and restaurants that stayed open, many reported a slump in sales, some up to 50 percent. Consolation: The success of the weekend could draw more visitors to Chicago in the future. Another consolation: More than 2,000 temporary jobs were created because of the summit.

*Chicago residents: We endured road closures, public transportation headaches and an overtaken downtown area, and we did it well. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was at the Red Line Station at Roosevelt on Tuesday, shaking hands with locals. “I wanted to come and personally thank residents of the South Loop,” he said. “If anyone bared the brunt of the inconvenience, they did.”

Inconvenience is a word many Chicago residents and business owners would use to describe the NATO experience, but now that all is said and done, our city looked pretty good. I’d like to see New York pull it off nearly as well.

“By hosting NATO and the NATO summit, we have reinforced, reaffirmed and revitalized Chicago’s role on the world stage,” Mayor Emanuel said. “While Chicago has the title of second city, because of the NATO summit, we’ve shown the world that we are a world-class, first-class city.”

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