NATO-Chicago Wrap Up

5/22/12–Post-NATO Update: A return to normalcy. One byproduct of NATO-Chicago, we got a new street sign, where none existed before (I guess that means we’re now on the map). Also, here are some other thoughts about Chicago winners & losers. Again, we’d like to hear what you think? Let us know w/ your comments & questions.

5/21/12–So much of NATO-Chicago was staked on positive coverage of the city by foreign journalists. With more than 2,500 overseas journalists covering NATO & Chicago, how has that fared? Here’s one report.

And a few observations from other journalists, in passing.

We’d like you to share more stories. What have you read?

–Whatever the long-term benefit of the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012, it will not have been without its short-term costs. The most immediate impact, a substantial loss of business in downtown & surrounding areas, including the South & West Loop. At mid-day on Monday, in addition to the numerous downtown businesses that opted to close for the day, streets surrounding downtown looked like ghost towns, save for a few people waiting on buses and clusters or police officers or private security, with not much to do.

It’s clear that when the public relations of having NATO here starts to wind down, some of the first reports will focus on the loss of commerce for downtown & neighborhood businesses. You name it—from McDonalds to Jewel Food Stores to Starbucks, to physicians’ offices and local cleaners, local gardening centers and even car dealerships—all in this area have clearly felt a negative business impact, starting from at least the Friday before. It’ll be curious to see the numbers when they come in. In the meantime, we can only hope NATO wraps up fairly incident free, and has some big payoff down the line.

A Final Note—It was a unique and memorable experience to reside within the world’s safest 10-mile radius, for at least a few days. Kudos to all those who worked to make it so. Also, at least two clear winners emerged from several days of NATO planning & events: Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who commanded his officers from the front lines, and First Lady & Chicago native, Michelle Obama, who brought wives of several world leaders to an often-troubled South Side community, Auburn-Gresham, where they interacted with young people who rarely even get a chance to see the local power-brokers of Chicago.

P.S.-Now that the numbers have started coming in, we add this post to keep you update: Metra commuter rail service estimate NATO loss at $800,000: http://trib.in/LFWUIB

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