U.S. Rep. Bill Foster spoke to members of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce on Friday about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census and its implications for Will County.
Foster, D-Naperville, joined the organization at a luncheon at Mistwood Golf Course in Romeoville to talk about the decennial count, which many local public officials, government bodies and organizations are already preparing for.
In his remarks, Foster emphasized the vast amount of federal dollars at stake, which makes counting every Will County resident vital for funding for social services.
“If we miss one person, it costs us $1,800 every year,” he said.
In all, Will County receives about $200 million in federal funding from agencies relying on accurate census data to calculate the need for everything from education grants to Medicaid to nutrition assistance benefits.
He specifically lauded the efforts of city of Joliet officials in establishing a complete count committee to ensure an accurate local census count, and the Spanish Community Center in Joliet, which is engaging the local “hard to count” populations.
Marilyn Sanders, the U.S. Census Bureau’s regional director for several Midwest states, also spoke at Friday’s luncheon about the preparation done months in advance of when the survey goes out to all Americans in the spring.
“We’re building the infrastructure in order to take the census on April 1, 2020,” she said.
She added that even during the years between each census, the bureau works to provide accurate data for a variety of causes.
Workers conduct surveys with a sample of the population to gather information about issues such as health or crime for several other federal departments and agencies. The data can be found at the bureau’s website, data.census.gov.
The Joliet Chamber of Commerce also presented Foster with the Spirit of Enterprise Award.
Although Foster is the only member of Congress with a doctorate in physics, he also touted his experience in business.
When he was 19, he and his younger brother co-founded Electronic Theatre Controls, a company that now manufactures more than half of the theater lighting equipment in the country, according to his congressional office.
Foster represents the 11th Illinois Congressional District, which includes all or part of Joliet, New Lenox, Plainfield, Bolingbrook and Naperville.