How important to Oswego is getting an accurate count on the 2020 Census? Huge! The count this year has a major effect on future development, both public and private, for the next 10 years.
According to a report this week from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the state of Illinois is at risk of being undercounted in the 2020 U.S. Census. Every 10 years, the Census seeks to count every person in America, and that data is used to guide important decisions that impact our local economy here in Oswego.
An undercount could mean fewer dollars in our Oswego community for big projects that are partially funded by federal dollars, such as Wolf’s Crossing and the future Metra station. It would negatively affect the funding of our school district, mean fewer dollars for federal programs such as school lunches for our youth, housing and transportation programs for our senior residents and even the number of representatives we get in Congress.
The private sector would be impacted, as well. Developers use this data to determine our growth and use that to determine the feasibility of future projects. The business community incorporates this data into their market analysis when determining whether they will bring a restaurant, store or entertainment facility to Oswego.
Most recently, the federal dollars allotted to Oswego as part of the CARES and CURES Acts were apportioned based on past Census data. That money has been used to fight the pandemic and its economic fallout in our community. Bringing home those federal dollars has meant a lifeline for Oswego’s small businesses.
This is a huge deal for Oswego. If a census worker comes to your door, be sure to answer. Census workers will have a tote bag, a tablet and a name badge that clearly identifies them as an official census worker, and they will be wearing face masks. By law, census workers are allowed to visit between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., and they may try to contact you up to six times. If they cannot contact you directly, they are permitted to ask your neighbors for information.
But you can avoid the knock on the door completely and ensure future funding and representation for Oswego by completing your census questionnaire right now – online or by phone. Visit www.my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020. It takes just 10 minutes to respond.
The good news is that to date, 85% of you have responded – that’s one of the best rates in Illinois, and higher than our neighbors in Montgomery and Yorkville, who we challenged to a friendly competition earlier in the census season. But I am confident that every resident of Oswego possesses the strong sense of duty and community commitment to get us to 100% before the census wraps up at the end of this month.
• Troy Parlier is Oswego village president.