Thomson: Bring on the Terrorists

Gitmo prisoners good for business

The people of Thomson want the terrorists. They are not afraid.

Just ask Todd Smith, the owner of Buck's Barn Golf Resort, whose 18 holes and 53 hotel rooms are just two miles from the corrections facility where President Obama wants to transfer detainees now housed at Guantanamo Bay.

"Any place that would have been a good target for terrorists before won't change on the basis of where the prisoners are being held," Smith told AP

Thomson folk seem to mostly agree with Smith, despite Republican pols braying that the move would put Americans at risk.

The locals are having none of it.

"This is probably the economic-development opportunity of a lifetime for northwest Illinois, and we intend to take full advantage of it," Russ Simpson told the AP. Simpson heads an area economic development group.

The prison has sat empty; opening it to house the detainees - and other federal prisoners - will require hiring administrators, guards and the like. And they'll be drawing paychecks.

Gas station manager Donna Opheim told the Quad City Times that she and her employees were excited about the prospect of an economic boost. “We’ve got room to grow, and we’re ready to grow,” she said.

Bait shop owner Todd Baker told the Chicago Tribune that "I know me and every other business loves it . . . I've had maybe three or four people, out of a couple hundred, who say they don't want (terror suspects) there. The vast majority, though, don't mind it."

Neighboring towns are also expecting a spillover of economic activity.

"This increase in population is going to be great for our area and being able to solicit new businesses and add to businesses," Julie Allesee, the Chamber of Commerce president of nearby Clinton told KWQC-TV.

If anything, the locals might be expecting a little too much out of Thomson.

But one thing seems clear: The only people who are against transferring Gitmo detainees to Northwest Illinois are those who didn't live there.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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