DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - North Texas is gearing up for a history-making day, as the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum opens Thursday morning. The center is located on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas and houses the largest electronic records collection of any presidential library — including more than 200 million emails from the Bush administration — and 43,000 artifacts from his presidency.
Security is already extremely tight around the campus ahead of the dedication ceremony. Every living U.S. president will be there along with several key figures from the Bush era and current politicians from across the country.
Crews are putting the final touches on the stage area being used during Thursday's ceremony. The podium is in place, many chairs have been set out for the audience, and the media tower is ready to hold reporters from all around the nation who will decend on Dallas for this historic event.
This is an invitation-only event. The center opens to the public next week.
This presidential library has been in the planning stages for years, and will be an academic jewel for SMU and a boost for the entire DFW area. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 people will tour the center each year, and spend money across the greater Dallas area. "If you think about the impact of 300,000 to 400,000 visitors coming every year," said Phillip Jones with the bureau, "we're talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million to $40 million of economic impact on an annual basis. That's something we can really be very happy about."
The George W. Bush Presidential Center will also be a worldwide magnet for researchers and students.