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Chicago Prepares for High-Profile NATO/G8 Summits in May 2012

Chicago Skyline
The City of Chicago will host two significant international events simultaneously in May: the 2012 NATO Summit and a meeting of leaders of G8 nations.

SBNM faculty comment on high-profile events here, effects on University

CHICAGO (February 14, 2012) – Faculty with the School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM) at North Park University say Chicago will experience both the advantages and disadvantages of two significant global events Chicago will be hosting in May. Simultaneous meetings of leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the G8 nations are planned for May 19-21 in downtown Chicago. City leaders have been preparing for months, including planning for a significant security presence in the city in the event of likely demonstrations.

The summits provide for a "phenomenal opportunity" to witness in Chicago the core principles of a free-market oriented democracy, said Dr. Al Kamienski, SBNM associate professor of finance. Those principles are freedom of enterprise intersecting with freedom of expression, he said, speaking at a recent SBNM event at which faculty comment on the economic outlook for the coming year.

"The opinions of all, whether inside or outside of the '1 percent' must be allowed and respected," Kamienksi said. "With a world-leading standard of living and a unique history of upward mobility, both the United States and Chicago -- a global financial, manufacturing and technology center -- are poised to show the world how liberty and the pursuit of happiness can co-exist in a peaceful, meaningful way."

The practical effects of the two meetings will be felt locally. Scores of local businesses and organizations are making plans to adjust their operations and related activities because of security restrictions in the days surrounding the meetings. Dr. Pier Rogers, director of the University's Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, said she is concerned that nonprofit organizations with downtown facilities will have to make alternative plans to ensure their clients are still served.

The University has already been affected in at least one way. The 13th annual Axelson Symposium, a significant University educational opportunity for nonprofit professionals and volunteers, was moved this year from its traditional date in May to June 4-5 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. The meeting's theme is "Reignite Your Vision."

"The Holiday Inn contacted us to inform us of the NATO/G8 summit during our planned dates in May," Rogers said. "They informed us of the increased security measures, and higher hotel fees." The meeting dates were moved after considering several possibilities, she said.

There has been much discussion about how protestors will affect the NATO/G8 meetings. Dr. Lee Sundholm, SBNM professor of economics, said despite the efforts of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others, protests and demonstrations could well have an effect on Chicago businesses and people living in the city. For example, members of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 are focused on issues such as climate change, the environment, and contrast of the "1 percent" and the "99 percent," he said.

Dr. Gianfranco Farruggia, SBNM associate professor of nonprofit management, said that while some reports suggest as many as 50,000 protestors will visit Chicago, demonstrations will not rise to the level of the 1968 Chicago riots during the Democratic National Convention. He also said recent organized economic protests, such as Occupy Wall Street, have been losing steam in recent weeks.

NATO is a military alliance of 28 countries, and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The G8 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the world's strongest economies. Heads of state from those nations will meet. Both meetings are expected to draw large numbers of journalists, visitors and protestors.

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