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Poll Says Most Chicagoans Support NATO

An aerial view of Chicago's convention complex where the NATO summit will be held. (CBS)

An aerial view of Chicago’s convention complex where the NATO summit will be held. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — From business leaders to everyday Chicagoans, there appears to be plenty of support for Chicago being host to the NATO summit in a few days.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, a new poll by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-Channel 9 finds that 58 percent of city voters, and 50 percent of suburban voters in the six-county area, believe there will be an improved perception of Chicago around the world because the city is hosting the NATO Summit.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

More than 60 percent said even if they do not agree with some of the messages being put forth by those protesting the summit, the protesters have every right to demonstrate.

Meanwhile, a senior fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs tells the Associated Press that Chicago needs to be known for more internationally than Al Capone and the Union Stockyards that closed more than 40 years ago, and that hosting the NATO Summit is just the event that could accomplish that task.

Richard Longworth says it is time for international visitors to see Chicago as one of the world’s great cities.

“We ought to be known for something more than the old stockyards, smog or Al Capone, but we aren’t,” said Richard Longworth, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “People are surprised when they visit, and that’s why” Mayor Rahm Emanuel wanted the summit.

We have to stop being a surprise,” Longworth added.

The city had sought to improve its image by hosting the 2016 Olympics, but ended up losing the bid to Rio de Janeiro in 2009.

Timuel Black, a veteran civil rights activist and history professor on the South Side, said the NATO summit might be a boon for Chicago’s downtown and for businesses and residents who are already successful.

But he doubts it will do anything for the most impoverished neighborhoods that have only become poorer and more violent with the loss of jobs and the widening of the gap between rich and poor.

“They’re concerned about schools, health care, jobs for themselves and their kids, and they just don’t see the benefit” of a NATO summit, said Black, who is 93.

Longworth, from the Council on Global Affairs, said a successful summit could attract more development and tourists.

“It is not going to solve the city’s problems in one stroke,” he said. “But the city really does need this exposure.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)