Brower: Fill out the census form because it’s worth it
Why in the world would a column about grassroots business and economic development be about the census?
Because the U.S. Census, beyond the importance of knowing about the population of the country, is really about money — lots of money. In particular, it’s about federal, state and local money. It is, really, a pocketbook and economic issue.
The numbers are clear. The federal government allocates $1.5 trillion a year to places all across America based on census population numbers. In Colorado alone, that amounts to $19,205,771 a year. In the simplest, most direct terms, the more people counted in a state or region, the more money that state or region gets. The money is used for community benefits such as school assistance, community projects, Medicare and Medicaid, and a wide range of grant programs that cover all sorts of programs and efforts (some of those programs involve rural economic development, which directly benefits local small businesses).
And yet, right now, Grand County has one of the lowest response rates in the state for the census count that’s going on right now. This week, in fact, is Census Awareness Week, one of those artificial sort of events designed to create enthusiasm and resolve so that people will be sure and be counted.
I think it’s time for local citizens here in Grand County to get serious about getting counted for this year’s census.
The way they used to do the census, with door-to-door, in-person meetings to fill out the forms, is not happening this year, because of COVID-19. Instead, canvassers for the Census Bureau will be going to doors, but they will be leaving census info on door knobs or prominent places. There won’t be the face-to-face encounters. Combine that with Grand County’s dispersed population base in a rugged geographical setting, combined with the large number of second homes, and the challenges for a good census count are daunting.
But I do think we can get through this with a good count in Grand County. Alexis Kimbrough, the census coordinator for the county, is working hard to get the word out about the importance of being counted.
One relatively easy way to get counted is to fill out the census form online. It’s easy and fast. And it can be done from your computer at home, a friend’s computer or public computer (like at the library, for example). The important thing is to get it done.
Go to 2020census.gov. If you’ve received a notice in the mail about filling out the census it will have a Census ID attached to it that links you to your address. However, if you didn’t get that mailing and you don’t have a Census ID, you can still fill it out without that ID. Visit the online form and select Start Questionnaire. Below the ID field, choose the link that says, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”
That’s how I did it and I completed the form in five minutes. It merely asks for information about you and the people living with you on April 1, 2020.
For those worried about the intrusions of Big Brother and how the information might be divulged and used, rest easy. The information is confidential and is used only by the Census Bureau for its own purposes. The IRS can’t get its hands on that info. The Armed Forces, the CIA and even that NSA can’t get their hands on that personal information.
Some nosy entities have even sued to get the direct personal information and they lost in court. It’s protected and it should be because the Census Bureau wants an honest and realistic count. If people heard that the information “got out,” then they’d be much less likely to respond honestly.
So let’s not let Grand County be at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the Census. Count yourself in!
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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