For 99.99% of you, Long Acre Township in Beaufort County, N.C., means nothing. But to the remodelers who make their living on that stretch of Tobacco Road, knowing what goes on there and how the area is changing can prove vital to the survival of their business.

So it goes nationwide with tens of thousands of communities, each of them distinct. Trouble is, most reports about the economy or jobs or housing talk about the country as a whole, when all you really want to know is about your own town.

That’s why you should get to know the American Community Survey (ACS), an online service from the U.S. Census Bureau with more than 11 billion data points on 40 topics that can be viewed for areas as small as a ZIP code.

The database can help you compare neighborhoods in your service area to see which contain the best prospects. For instance, the ACS can tell you how old the homes are, which areas have the most transients, and what languages the inhabitants speak.

The survey has been around for a while, but just last month the ACS was updated with fresh information for 2011. It also updated its QuickFacts site, which makes it possible for you to build your own data tables. And early this year, the Census Bureau plans to release “Dwellr,” a mobile app. —Craig Webb, editor-in-chief, REMODELING.