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While conducting the census is still two years out, work on it has already begun in Yellowstone County, according to Lora Mattox of the City-County Planning Department. The 2020 Census will be a massive project for her office, since Yellowstone County will serve as headquarters for the process for a seven-county area. The funding and hiring associated with it will have a significant impact on Yellowstone County’s economy, she said.

Since the beginning of the year, the once-a –decade collection of data by the federal government has been underway, with an outreach to local groups, leaders and government, notifying them about the census and informing them about its importance. Beginning in April they began promoting participation in the project and a search for office space in the downtown area.

Mattox said that they have not yet secured a headquarters location, but are in the process of checking out possibilities.

The actual count will not begin until March 2020. The survey will consist of ten questions posed to each household. Mattox said that they have 120 day – through July 2020 — to conduct this part of the project.

The 2020 Census is to be delivered to the President by December 31, 2020.

In the meantime, the county’s GIS department, under the direction of Janelle Lupine, is meticulously going through county addresses and maps and past records to bring them up to date where necessary, and to double check data to make sure their information is accurate.

Mattox emphasized the importance of the census saying that the data collected is used by the federal government and often by local governments in making decisions regarding disbursement of funds for programs and planning. It is also used to determine the number of Congressional representation for each state.

In 2015, Montana got over $2 billion from 16 large federal assistance programs based upon the census. That amounts to $1,989 per person in Montana.

The programs include medical assistance, highway planning, SNAP, Medicare Part B, S-CHIP, Head Start, education grants, housing vouchers, low income assistance, etc.