G8/NATO slogan paints Chicago as 'global crossroads'

January 27, 2012 4:21:17 AM PST
The host committee for the G8/NATO summit in Chicago unveiled a new slogan for the event Wednesday.

The organizers did their best to try and concentrate on the positives of the event and downplay any potential problems.

The third weekend in May presents conflicting images. One has Chicago on the international stage hosting world leaders, winning prestige, and economic benefit. The other has the prospect of large-scale protests stealing the stage as the world watches.

While there are questions about risks, the organizers want to stress the benefits.

When Chicago packaged its 2016 Olympic bid, the message was, this city should see itself on the global stage. Lori Healey was president of the 2016 committee. Today, she heads the host committee organizing the G8/NATO summits in May.

"If you want to be a global city, you've got to act like a global city and do what global cities do," said Healey.

Wednesday, the host committee debuted its new logo -- "the global crossroads" -- and introduced a variety of events that will be part of the run-up. And, very much like the Olympic bid, the summits are being promoted for the visitor dollars they will bring and the marketing potential they will create.

"To penetrate international markets takes time and money, and this is going to help us showcase to the international markets in a quick way," said Don Welsh, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.

At the same time, there are competing images and unanswered questions: How do the summits succeed when they have historically been accompanied by large-scale protests?

"It's a secure event, but not a security event. So a lot of the focus can't be made known at this time," said the mayor's deputy chief of staff Felicia Davis.

And it won't be made known by the US Secret Service until two to four weeks before the summits. In the interim, businesses are trying to prepare as best they can when so much is unknown.

At least one college downtown has moved its graduation ceremonies set for that weekend to a suburban location.

Some theaters are offering their subscribers the chance to move their tickets for that weekend, but only as a preliminary courtesy, if they wish. The show will go on.

The Illinois State Crime Commission says it is urgently seeking Iraq-Afghanistan combat veterans to work security positions for the G8 summit. The commission's chairman clarifies that is for private security. They will not be working with Chicago police.

While there is an abundance of security questions, the refrain from the host committee is "Chicago will remain open for business."

"All the focus on negativity is unproductive and not a good way to focus our energies at this point," said Healey.

"We're a world class city with world class potential, and we always do well when people come to see Chicago and Chicago can tell its story," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Critical to policing the G8 and NATO summits is knowing what the security footprint will be. The host committee has said that it will likely include a "very small section of downtown, south to McCormick Place" where the summits are being held. But that is the call of the US Secret Service and they won't divulge those specifics until late April at the earliest.