BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Less than half of the people who live in Blytheville have self-responded to the Census, 2020census.gov says, but one organization is working to make sure everyone is counted.
Liz Smith, executive director of the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce, said a good deal of federal funding and some state funding is based on the population numbers.
“It is a sad fact that we have been leaving a million dollars a year on the table since the 2010 Census,” Smith said.
The chamber is starting up a program in mid-July that will consist of several components to get people counted.
They will have booths set up in high-traffic areas to hopefully get people to complete the Census or to at least give them information about the importance of the Census.
“We also plan to have a sign and dine event here on our front porch,” Smith said. “We have a nice area that we can use. We will cook food, hamburgers, hot dogs or whatever, and invite people to come and eat and learn more about the census. Hopefully, they will, you know, participate.”
She said the Census not only determines how much state and federal funding a city or county receives, but it is also important when it comes to state and national legislative representation.
“Because the lines are redrawn based on numbers of people in specific areas,” Smith said.
When prospective businesses come to town, Smith said one of the indicators they look it is the population, and population decline could prevent a company from coming to the area.
“When we are trying to grow, we’re trying to attract other businesses, retail businesses, or restaurants, etc. I don’t think people realize that one of the first indicators to a business that might be coming in is the population trend. And the Census is where those numbers come from.”
She also emphasizes that Census data is not tied to any law enforcement measures or other entities like the IRS.
“This is not an enforcement strategy. All the information is private. It is not shared with those agencies,” Smith said.
She said the chamber wants to mitigate those fears and let people know that the information they give out remains private.
For people who do not fill out our census form, a census taker could knock on your door. According to 2020Census.gov, they will begin door knocking on August 11 and continue until October 31.
If you would like to fill out your Census online, click here.