Chicago, New York, Hawaii bid for Obama library

Chicago, New York, Hawaii bid for Obama library
Proposed location for the Obama presidential library
Proposed location for the Obama presidential library

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii officials turned in the state's initial proposal to host the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Five different plans from Chicago and one from New York were also reportedly submitted by the June 16 deadline.

A new website details the vision for the future facility on eight acres in Kakaako. Hawaii Five-0's Daniel Dae Kim narrated a video that presents Hawaii's presidential center pitch.

"Will Hawaii really seriously be considered? I think the answer is 'yes' because of that very fact that we are unified. We speak with one voice. We want to be able to be a partner or we're willing to go it alone," said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui.

The state's initial plan calls for a convening institute which would be a think tank to promote dialogue on global challenges. Other ideas include a youth leadership academy and a visitor center chronicling the president's life and his ties to Hawaii.

"It will contribute to the development and intellectual vibrancy of Kakaako, and we think it's a place that will solve problems and really highlight Hawaii's role in a global future," said University of Hawaii interim president David Lassner.

Hawaii's strategy focuses on unity. There is a lot at stake, including a huge economic boost.

"When you look at the creation of a presidential center and the fact that it could potentially mean over 2,000 jobs, you're looking at the economic impact over $500 million dollars," said Tsutsui.

The Lt. Governor's office provided financial support for the proposal for FY 2014 of $190,000 and FY 2015 of $200,000 through its operating budget request. Lassner estimated that UH is providing up to $200,000, mainly through support of faculty participation.

Now the hope is that the president chooses to return to his roots in the islands to reflect on his legacy and build on his future.

"I think what it would ultimately be able to do for us in Hawaii is really to be able to tell President Barack Obama's story the way I think only Hawaii can, and it's a great opportunity to for us to educate our keiki for generations and generations to come," Tsutsui said.

The Hawaii team expects the Barack Obama Foundation to ask for a formal proposal later this summer. The president is likely to make his final decision early next year.

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