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Museum Of Broadcast Communications Grant Creates Fewer Jobs Than Promised (But Will "Inspire" Future Generations)

By Kim Bellware in News on Jun 12, 2012 10:00PM

A rendering of the new Museum of Broadcast Communications (photo via the MBC website)
When Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications opens the doors of its new location to the public, it will be full of broadcast memorabilia, but short on the jobs its funding was supposed to deliver.

In 2010, founder Bruce DuMont received $6 million in grant funding from the state to support construction of the new facility. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (which administered the state support), DuMont was awarded funding after telling the state the project would help create 200 year-long construction jobs and 19 museum staff positions. (The Tribune breaks the figure down as 15 full-time positions and four part-time ones).

With the public opening a day away, the Tribune had a few questions for DuMont after the founder backtracked on some of those rosy figures; the new totals are closer to 11 part-time jobs rather than the originally stated 19. As for the 200 construction jobs, DuMont gave the Tribune an estimate that "180 to 200 workers — who worked anywhere from 10 months to a few days — were involved in construction of the new building."

When the Trib asked DuMont about the discrepancy between the numbers he promised the state to secure funding and the actual hands on deck at the MBC, DuMont replied to the paper... while maturely ribbing the Trib on its own recent reductions:

"If the MBC can manage our operations with fewer people and do so efficiently, we will do so, just like the Chicago Tribune has done."

In other interviews the Tribune referenced, DuMont's projections don't seem as misleading—they seem plain crazy. The veteran radio personality and political pundit said the museum's opening—not the museum itself—will create jobs for service employees who attend to the museum's visitors. Then there's the assertion that the museum is creating jobs because it will inspire young people to pursue careers in broadcasting. Quoted in the Tribune, DuMont said:

"I think inspiration is a form of job creation because it changes one life."

While a spokeswoman for the DCEO said the hope was for "construction and construction-related" jobs, outlook on the project is still positive since the museum will "support Illinois' thriving tourism industry."

The museum's $6 million in funding was part of a $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! bill Gov. Pat Quinn signed in 2009.

The museum may be opening in debt and delivering fewer jobs that promised, but at least now visitors (for a $12 admission fee) will have the chance to walk through the door from Oprah's set, make their own soap opera and browse 85,000 hours worth of archived broadcast material. And if you're attending the 10 a.m. grand opening on the 13th, Betty White will be on hand to cut the ribbon.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications is located at 360 N State