I came to Detroit in 1975 to take on my first full-time job in the Census Bureau’s Detroit Regional Office. While I had worked a variety of jobs throughout an extended college and graduate school “career,” I realized that once I had burned out (by choice) on my dissertation and a potential academic career, a real job was a must. I had worked on a number of surveys throughout Ohio for the Bureau while in grad school and decided that was the path I would take. I started with a Special Census in Sterling Heights before taking on the job of Geographic Planning Specialist. After running administrative operations for the 1980 Census, I moved to the Information Services Department. It was here that my love for numbers was reenergized and where I learned the power of information to make change. My fear of public speaking was overcome and my interest in “teaching” was renewed. I owe the last 30 years of my career to the Detroit Regional Office.
It is therefore easy to understand why I received today’s news from the U.S. Census Bureau with a heavy heart. They announced a “realignment of their national field office structure and management reforms designed to keep pace with modern survey collection methods worldwide and reduce costs by an estimated $15 million to $18 million annually beginning in 2014. The changes are the first to the field office structure since 1961 and will result in the permanent closing of six of the agency’s 12 Regional Offices, affecting approximately 330 employees in a national field force of about 7,200. The realignment will close Regional Offices located in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City and Seattle. The remaining six Regional Offices and their new boundaries will be located in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.”
I know that things must change and I knew back in 1975 that it was unusual for Michigan and Ohio to be served by a federal agency with an office outside of Chicago. While I have been gone from the Census Bureau’s Detroit Office for over 20 years, leaving in 1990 to join Wayne State, I will always have strong ties because it not only created my career path but, more importantly, it BROUGHT ME TO DETROIT!