HARDIN, Montana (CNN) – The tiny town of Hardin, Montana, is offering an answer to a very thorny question: Where should the nation put terror detainees if the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is shut down by the end of the year as President Obama has pledged?
Hardin, population 3,400, sits in the southeast corner of Montana, in the state's poorest county. Its small downtown is almost deserted at midday. The Dollar Store is going out of business. The Hardin Mini Mall is already shut. The town needs jobs - and fast.
Hardin borrowed $27 million through bonds to build the Two Rivers Regional Correctional Facility in hopes of creating new employment opportunities. The jail was ready for prisoners two years ago, but has yet to house a single prisoner.
People here say politics in the capital of Helena has kept it empty. But the city council last month voted 5-0 to back a proposal to bring Gitmo detainees - some of the most hardened terrorists in the world - to the facility.