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Claridge House to be regional headquarters for 2020 Census

By Updated: May 14, 2019 11:13 PM CT | Published: May 14, 2019 3:44 PM CT

The Census Bureau has leased 8,300 square feet in the historic Claridge House, which will become regional headquarters for the 2020 Census.

Forty to 50 headquarters staff members will work on the third floor of the 105-year-old building, 109 N. Main, across Adams from City Hall.

The federal agency is accepting online applications for hundreds of more jobs described as “census takers” or “enumerators” for the 10-county region that encompasses: Shelby, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Tipton, Lauderdale, Crockett, Dyer, Lake and Obion counties.

Those hires start next spring working at least 20 hours a week for $17.50 an hour. To apply, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.

Meanwhile, construction workers will carry out a $336,000 project this summer to convert the third floor of The Claridge House into a headquarters for the people-counting mission that is expected to take 11 to 19 months, or longer.

“We’ll open as early as late summer or early fall,” said Michelle Archer, assistant regional census manager at the Philadelphia Regional Census Center. That office serves the Memphis area.

The lease is something of a milestone for the mixed-use Claridge House, which was built as a hotel and now houses condos, apartments, commercial space and offices.

“We should be 100% occupied as soon as we get the census offices accomplished,” Pratt Rogers said. The associate with CBRE represents the commercial spaces for The Claridge House owners.

The Census Bureau requires an unusual lease. “They don’t need office space for a long time,” Rogers said. “They have an option to extend after the 11th month an added seventh or eighth month.

“We expect them to stay longer than 19 months,” he said.

Hotel Claridge opened when 114 million people lived in the U.S., and will house the regional census operation when 327 million people live in the country.

How much that number grows with the 2020 Census depends partly on how effectively the headquarters staff performs.

The office will comprise such administrative functions as payroll, supply and management.

Hundreds more employees will work in the field but be based from their homes. Exactly how many of those census takers will be hired depends on how many households take 20 minutes to fill in and submit the online census questionnaire.

Next spring, the census takers will visit the homes that did not respond.

The bureau is trying to make it easy for households to respond. If residents don’t want to fill out the questionnaires online, they will receive a paper form in the mail. Or, they can choose to answer the questions by telephone.

The first fieldwork starts this fall when the Census Bureau canvasses the territory “to make sure we have all addresses accurately,” Archer said. For the Memphis area, that mapping operation will be led out of the Shelbyville, Tennessee, office south of Murfreesboro.

Asked if the low unemployment rate will make it harder for the Census Bureau to hire the part-time census takers, Archer responded, “We are really trying to gear our jobs to the civic-minded individual: People who have some time to take on some part-time work and are civically engaged and want to help the community.”

So far, the bureau has experienced relatively few issues in recruiting workers, she said.

Topics

2020 Census Commercial Real Estate Downtown Memphis Commission
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey covers business news for The Daily Memphian. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He's worked in journalism for 40 years and has lived in Midtown for 36 years.


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