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Bush Library Considered North Texas Economic Gem

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be dedicated Thursday on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus.  All five living U.S. Presidents are slated to attend.

The presidential library and museum is a prestigious gem for SMU.

The LBJ Presidential Library in Austin and the George H.W. Bush Library in College Station enhance the reputations of the schools that host them. The North Texas Bush library could also boost the local economy.  “Speaking for all the businesses here, we’re really excited about it,” Tim Pounds said with enthusiasm.

Pounds runs the Roly Poly sandwich franchise just off the SMU campus. He’s envisioning a boost in sales from all the tourists, and new Presidential Center employees, who will be lining up for lunch at his store. “Especially in the summer when all the students are gone from SMU they’re expecting probably the most visitors will come at that time.”

Nearby at Ship Express, Keith Kumars has similar optimism.  “It will help us market our services since we are so close to the Bush Library.”

Kumars is a partner in Ship Express, which does package shipping and packing. He expects a lot of foreign visitors will buy more souvenirs and mementos than can be taken on a plane.  “That may limit the kinds of things that can be taken along with them so they can ship using our services,” he told CBS 11 News.

So, just how many people are expected to pass through the doors of the? Possibly 300,000 to 400,00 annually, according to Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) CEO Phillip Jones.  “We’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 million in economic impact on an annual basis and that’s something we can really be very happy about.” Jones added, “We’re very excited about what it brings to the city from a meetings perspective, from a leisure perspective, and from a visibility perspective and we think it’s a real home run for Dallas in its opening and we can’t wait to take advantage of it.”

While Jones expects that money to be spent all over the city of Dallas, it is the SMU campus that will likely be the big winner in terms of scholarship and history.

When sensitive Bush Administration papers eventually become de-classified, they’ll show up at the Presidential Center, says John Weekley.  “As that information is reviewed and released it goes to the presidential library,” according to Weekley, who besides being a CBS 11 political analyst is also an adviser to SMU’s communications division.

Weekly says a library like this is less about politics and more about the history of an era.  “A presidential library — almost the least thing about it is politics. It’s mostly a resource, an academic resource and community resource, on history, on the military, on public policy and spending.”

In terms of being a local asset Weekley said, “The biggest thing is it’s unfiltered information, and for academics and researchers, that’s absolutely perfect.”

The presidential library and museum official dedication, being attended by the five living Presidents, is Thursday. The formal public opening of the facility is May 1.

As for the Dallas CVB, Jones said he already has a slate of meetings set for the day after the official opening. “So we see it as a great effort to book meetings, conventions, board meetings, things of that nature that are associated or affiliated with conventions but may be looking for an offsite venue that’s exclusive or unique.”

CBSDFW.COM will have live coverage of the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication starting at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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