US officials are set to visit the Thomson Correctional Centre this week as they consider its suitability for re-housing detainees currently held at the US military base in Cuba.
Under a plan pitched to the Obama administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons would operate the facility as a maximum-security jail, leasing a portion to the US defence department which would then be used to house fewer than 100 Guantanamo detainees.
The centre, located about 240km west of Chicago, was built in 2001 and has 1,600 cells.
It currently houses only about 200 minimum-security prisoners.
Barack Obama, the US president, has vowed to shut Guantanamo Bay by January next year amid international outcry over the torture of inmates held at the facility since it opened in 2002.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who supports the planned use of the Thomson Correctional Centre, said it would hold "the only group of Guantanamo detainees" on US soil.
Durbin insisted that the prisoners could be "safely and securely" held in whichever facility wins the contract and dismissed those who he said were "sowing the seeds of fear" in order to win political points.
"No one has ever escaped from one of these facilities," Durbin said, noting that the US prison system currently holds "some of the most dangerous people you could imagine."
Durbin said preliminary estimates show more than 3,000 jobs would be created, potentially injecting more than $1bn into the local economy over the first four years of operation.
"This is an opportunity to dramatically reduce unemployment, create thousands of good-paying jobs and breathe new economic life into this part of downstate Illinois," Durbin, the US Senate's second-ranking Democrat, said in a statement.
Obama administration officials have been searching for a facility to hold foreign terror suspects and they have considered as possible sites Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and a facility in Standish, Michigan.
The White House declined comment on the Thomson facility, with an aide saying no decision has been made and that multiple options are under consideration.