U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Armon Lowery asked the Alachua Board of County Commissioners to repeat after him in unison, “The money follows the numbers.”
At the Feb. 25 regular meeting, the BOCC agreed to send out a letter to invite businesses and schools to allow staff and faculty to complete the 2020 Census at work on April 1.
“The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners requests that you join us in allowing your staff the opportunity to fill out their census during the work day on Wednesday April 1, 2020,” the letter reads.
“The decennial census is critical to us all,” it continues. “A complete count determines our representation in Congress, and the amount of federal resources allotted to are needs in health care, social services, infrastructure, education, and food security.”
Alachua County Strategic Initiatives Manager Sean McClendon said that partnerships between the County and entities such as the Alachua School Board, UF, City of Gainesville, 4As, MLK Foundation, NAACP and Community Foundation of North Central Florida are ensuring that this census measures the population more accurately then past census efforts.
He referred to the shortfall of the 2010 census that cost Alachua County $39 million in annual funding.
“All of these groups representing different aspects of our community are critical to us participating in our Census this year. Every little bit helps,” McClendon said. “We have potential to increase participation up to 80 percent this year.
McClendon gave examples of how the census will be more accurate in 2020.
“We have a unique opportunity to not only do it by phone or mail but now on the web,” he said. “We have new resources.”
Census Project Coordinator Kristen Young spoke about how the mobile application will help reach communities and that a bus with iPads and wi-fi will be deployed to communities to host census block parties.
Lowery, who is based at the Atlanta Regional Census Center told the BOCC, “We are making a lot of progress here in Alachua County. I believe that Alachua County is going to be a model for the Census. We are doing a number of things.”
He then applauded McClendon for partnering with community organizations to help make sure to get everyone counted in Alachua County.
The Census Bureau will mail out forms between March 12-20 and subsequent reminders. The decennial census happens every 10 years and provides a basis for the distribution of $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country.
Citizen can respond online for the first time this year and via mail or telephone. More information can be found at www.2020census.gov.
“We need everybody counted so that we get more money flowing to Alachua County,” Lowery said.