The Heartland Institute celebrated its Grand Opening on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22 in his new building in the affluent suburb of Arlington Heights on Chicago’s Northwest side at 3939 North Wilke Road. This puts Heartland closer to O’Hare Airport – as well as to supporters and audiences who better align with “Heartland values.”
Heartland was founded in downtown Chicago by David Padden in 1984, hiring Joseph Bast as its first employee, who has made running the organization his life’s work. The organization had been downtown for most of its 31 years, but Bast said Heartland was seeking to relocate to a place where its free-market ideas would be welcomed – rather than subject to the kind of open hostility they often saw in Chicago.
Bast went on to explain about how while looking for a suburban place to rent, they found the perfect building for sale in Arlington Heights. Thanks to a donor, the building could be bought and renovated without incurring any debt, but it is hoped that enough further donations will be received so Heartland’s activities can be expanded.
And it is a unique building. The new, single-story home for Heartland is about 14,000 square feet – about 30 percent larger than their space at One South Wacker downtown — and features multiple gables, a shingled roof, and dormers for great “curb appeal.” Prudential Insurance built the structure in 1992, at a time when the company built many similar buildings in affluent neighborhoods. The company never moved in, however, and only one-third of the building was occupied, allowing Heartland to custom renovate most of their new headquarters. Added bonuses include its free, off-road parking for 68 cars, a public meeting space that can seat up to 85 people, a library that can hold 80 bookcases, and enough work stations for 45 staff and interns.
Future plans, Bast said, includes inviting academics to be resident scholars, putting them up to stay for a week or more to do research, and opening the event space to local grass-roots activists and Tea Party groups. The event space also includes state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment, which will allow live-streaming of speaking events for Heartland.
In measuring the impact and success of the Heartland Institute at its Grand Opening, Joe Bast cited as its “Marketing Bulls-eye” the 7,300 state legislators in the U.S. who receive something from Heartland every single week. This outreach to legislators helps changes minds on public policy, Bast said, even among Democratic legislative members.
As to keeping up with new technology, Bast further related how Heartland is in the forefront of developing innovative ways to reach new audiences, It is in the early stages of producing videos on fracking and global warming, as well as launching a broad marketing strategy to general audiences via radio advertisements.
Consider also the influence of Heartland given the many sites it hosts. In addition to its own main Heartland.org Web site, Heartland hosts 17 other websites. Heartland also hosts a blog, Somewhat Reasonable, where Heartland senior staff and senior fellows post frequent commentaries that may depart from the usual calm and disinterested tone of its other publications.
An important product of Heartland is PolicyBot, a search engine and database containing more than 32,000 reports, news articles, and commentaries from some 300 think tanks and advocacy groups, including The Heartland Institute’s own publications. PolicyBot can be searched by keyword, author, publisher, and date of publication, making it an ideal resource for researchers and legislative staffers. This is a great research tool that you must check out!
President Bast considers it a compliment what The Economist magazine had to say about The Heartland Institute on May 16, 2012, calling it “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.”Bast also expressed pride in how in a span of four days, all the preparations were made to fly a Heartland delegation to Rome to contest the U.N.-driven climate change message by Pope Francis. The April event took place over two days and was a great public relations achievement.
Following Joe Bast’s welcoming remarks, the Friday morning session featured presentations by those who deal with the main issues and topics covered by The Heartland Institute as a leading think tank.
Part 2 will tell of the extraordinary work being done at The Heartland Institute by in-staff personnel and by those who are involved in promoting the five key issues tackled by Heartland: climate change, school reform, health care, budgets, taxes, and entitlement reform, and just added, a center on constitutional reform. In-depth research on these five issues qualifies The Heartland Institute as a major think thank that has more influence than thank tanks with budgets ten times as large.
[Originally published at Illinois Review]