FULTON, Ill. — After more than 12 years of waiting, a long list of broken promises and millions of dollars worth of idle investments, the future is looking a little brighter for the Thomson Correctional Center.
Following a $166.3 million federal budget allocation to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, approximately $54 million of that has been pledged to activate the long-vacant Thomson facility and turn it into a federal prison. Despite having that money allocated to the prison, many local officials still doubt the reality of its opening.
However, after a luncheon on Wednesday with representatives of the North Central Region of the Bureau of Prisons, those elected officials along with business owners and residents are starting to feel a little more optimistic for the first time since the federal government purchased the facility from the state of Illinois in 2009.
“This is a major, major victory,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-Rock Island, during the lunch-and-learn program. “We are ready to really finally see the fruits of everybody’s hard work.”
At event, residents and officials of Thomson, Fulton and surrounding communities gained insight to what the Bureau of Prisons is projecting for the high-security prison, and what they should be on the lookout for when it comes to business opportunities and job growth.
Before guests were able to ask their questions about the future of the prison, the BOP representatives gave a short presentation of their outlook and expectations for both the facility and the people they hope to employ there.
Regional Human Resources Manager Carmen Guyardo explained that while the employment opportunities will be vast when the prison opens, there will be specific requirements to be accepted into any position.
“We’re very proud of who we are and who we work for and as an agency we encourage our staff to promote and do more,” Guyardo said. “The agency provides you with everything you need to succeed. The sky is the limit as they say so it’s up to you.”