CRANBERRY TWP — Geography is the main reason why the township will serve as a regional hub for operations and data collection for the 2020 United States Census.
However, the rapid growth in the area is an added benefit for the Census Bureau, which is seeking to hire 3,000 people in Butler County alone.
A delegation from the Philadelphia Regional Census Center was in the township last week to kick-start operations and meet with government officials about the upcoming campaign.
According to Roxanne Wallace, assistant regional census manager, Cranberry Township is the headquarters for 45 counties in Pennsylvania as well as nine counties in Ohio. That includes Cuyahoga County and Cleveland, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state.
Although Census Day is not until April 1, 2020, data collection will begin this summer.
“Our first operation actually starts in 2019, and that's what we're hiring for,” Wallace said.
Wallace said 3,000 people are needed in Butler County, with the first wave of hires to take part in canvassing. Those selected will receive laptops to track data and would be hired in June.
Canvassing would begin in August, with those individuals confirming existing structures from the previous census are still there, and adding new development to the list — a monumental task in southwestern Butler County.
Wallace said the job would last about eight weeks, and those who perform well could apply for other jobs moving forward.
Additionally, about 40 people will be hired to staff the regional hub on Executive Drive, which had a soft opening recently. The official opening is April 5, Wallace said, adding that the “stars kind of came together” to make Cranberry such a large area of focus.
“The fact that there is so much growth in Cranberry is only an added benefit,” she said.
Stephen Shope, supervisory partnership specialist, said it is important to hire individuals who are reflective of and familiar with the community. He said the jobs are open to anyone 18 or older who are legal U.S. citizens. He said applicants ideally come from varied backgrounds.
“These are not always people looking for jobs,” he said. “It is people with a sense of civic duty. We see people come out of retirement; we see professors at colleges that come do this part time.”
According to Dwayne Lehman, partnership specialist for the bureau, an educational campaign is also under way.
He said the goal is to stress the importance of the data collected, which can determine congressional representation as well as state funding for roads and education. He said that data is vitally important to communities, such as Cranberry Township, where estimates indicate the population will increase to 50,000 by 2030.
Shope said that growth only increases the importance of accurate data.
“It is all the more reason this township and this county needs an accurate count because ... they're going to outgrow their data quickly, so they need every bit of that data that they can get,” he said.
Lehman also stressed the ease and safety of participating in the survey, as for the first time residents can submit forms online in addition to phone surveys and paper forms. All forms of entry are safe, and the information is not shared with any other government entity.
“We're here to create statistics,” he said. “It's safe.”