The 2020 Census is coming soon and based on a statistical analysis of the last census—only 80 percent of Genesee County residents are expected to respond. Considering that the census shapes many different aspects of our country and local communities, that puts Flint and Genesee County at a major disadvantage.
For one, it could potentially impact the strength of our voice in Washington, D.C. Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to divide the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. The higher a state’s population count, the stronger its representation will be.
The census also determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed to states and local communities each year. In fact, more than 40 percent of Michigan’s budget comes from federal funds allocated by census data. For every person not counted, the state misses out on $1,800 per year for 10 years; and when 20 percent of Genesee County’s population are either hard to reach or have migrated elsewhere, that adds up fast.
From a business perspective, the census has a major impact on growth opportunities. Data from the census helps determine where businesses choose to invest and build new facilities. It’s used to distribute grants for economic development and make the case for additional resources needed; and, determine where developers build homes and revitalize neighborhoods.
It also ensures that our region receives its share of funding to provide critical services including health care, K-12 education, housing, infrastructure and public works support.
It’s with all of this in mind that the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, City of Flint and Genesee County to increase local participation in next year’s population count. Together, we’re working to generate awareness around the census, why it matters and why your response is critical to our region’s growth and success.
The 2020 Census will officially kick off in January, when census takers will begin counting people in remote-Toksook Bay, Alaska. For the rest of the country, most households should receive an invitation to participate starting in mid-March.
For the first time ever, you’ll have the option to complete the questionnaire online. Or, if you prefer, you can do so by telephone or via mail. Whichever option you choose, you can expect it to be a relatively straightforward process. Responding should take about 5-10 minutes per questionnaire. A completed questionnaire must be completed for each person living in your household.
In the meantime, I encourage you to spread the word about the census to your family, friends and co-workers. The 2020 Census will affect the lives of every person in the United States, and we must work together to ensure that everyone in Flint, Genesee County and Michigan is accurately represented.
Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.