- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Planning is underway for events this fall to mark the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, including a multiday celebration featuring the former president, first lady and former members of Bill Clinton’s administration.

The Clinton Presidential Center was dedicated Nov. 18, 2004, in a cold, rainy ceremony featuring four presidents and members of the rock band U2. Since then, more than 3 million people have visited the center, and Little Rock officials estimate visitors to the city have increased by 25 percent since 2003.

“In 1997, I decided to build my presidential center in Little Rock, Arkansas, because I wanted to give back to the city and the state that have given my family and me so much,” former President Bill Clinton said in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary, I couldn’t be more proud of the work it has done and continues to do,” he said. The center houses Clinton’s presidential archives comprising 80 million pages of documents, a museum, a park and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, which was the first in the country to offer a master’s degree program in public service.

The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is planning a 10-day celebration in November to mark the anniversary, while the Clinton Foundation is planning events spanning Nov. 14-18. The former president and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are expected to attend some of the events, along with members of Clinton’s administration when he was president, governor and Arkansas attorney general, said Bruce Lindsey, Clinton Foundation board chairman.

Talk about a celebration involving them all came about after several Clinton alumni gathered in Little Rock in 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of Clinton launching his first presidential bid, Lindsey said.

Downtown Little Rock has transformed drastically since Clinton announced that his presidential library would be built there. The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau said tourism tax receipts - which include hotel and restaurant taxes - have grown by more than 64 percent since 2003, and more than 1,800 hotel rooms have been added to the city since then, said Gretchen Hall, the bureau’s president and chief executive officer.

“It certainly put Little Rock on the map as far as becoming a true visitor destination,” Hall said.


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