Editor’s Note: Cheri Coryea is the Manatee County Administrator.
Data from the census is used each year to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to communities across the country.
The 2020 Census is almost here! In mid-March, you will receive your 2020 Census invitation with instructions on how to complete the survey online, by phone or by mail. I encourage all Manatee County residents to complete the census questionnaire accurately.
Wondering why you should be counted? For one, filling out your census questionnaire is one of the easiest ways you can give back to our community. The more accurate the count is in a fast-growing community like ours, the more likely we’ll receive the resources we need from the federal government. Data from the census is used each year to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to communities across the country.
Federal funding supports vital programs — from housing, education, highways and public transportation to health care, public policy, and food security. Federal funding also goes to support fire stations, public schools, and health clinics. Census data has other practical uses as well. Population counts are used by nonprofit agencies to better understand local demographics, by businesses to create jobs, and by students for school projects.
If you assume you won’t have the time to fill out the questionnaire, I’d say that most people will be able to finish the 2020 Census in the time it takes to read this column or to fully catch up on your Facebook feed! Filling out the questionnaire is easy to complete online, by phone, by mail, or in person with a census taker.
I know that some folks think the census doesn’t have any impact on their lives or are uncomfortable sharing information. Yet, people should know that the census is completely confidential. The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect the privacy and confidentiality of everyone who responds. Your information will be used only for statistical purposes.
This message is especially hard to relay to highly mobile persons or those experiencing homelessness, non-English speakers, low-income residents, and undocumented immigrants. Everyone needs to understand that if you pay taxes and if you use our community resources, it’s critical to participate in the census!
Help others understand the importance of the census to our community by encouraging family, friends, neighbors, and other community members to fill out their census form. Manatee County is Florida’s fifth-fastest growing county. Let’s make sure our federal representatives know that by working to Make Manatee Count!
This guest column comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire and engage the community. Find more information about the 2020 census at 2020census.gov.