Many federal programs use census data to help direct funding to state and local areas. Census results help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is allocated to states and communities each year for roads, schools, hospitals (health clinics), emergency services, and more. Which makes it important for local communities to get everyone counted.
Kay County is already at work to get the word out about the importance of getting a complete count for the 2020 Census.
“In terms of economic development for Ponca City specifically, our community needs to be able to show growth over the past 10 years,” said Kat Long. “We have set a goal of counting 26,000 residents which would help us attract retail and restaurants interested in growing communities near major highways.”
But the importance of the census extends beyond economic development opportunities. The Kay County effort is working with the area’s more than 100 nonprofits who benefit from accurate census data when it comes to grants and developing new partnerships.
“I come from a marketing background where I learned that people need to see a message 9-13 times before it sticks with them,” said Long. “I am out in the community talking to groups about the census often. From the vehicle I drive that’s wrapped in census messaging to the pens, pencils and stickers we’re handing out, we’re doing our best to make sure people in the region know the census is just around the corner.”
Long has reached out to numerous groups in her community, including businesses who employ those in hard-to-reach populations, churches and schools.
“Our educators are with students for 30 hours every week. They have relationships with parents,” said Long. “These numbers impact us, especially the children in our community, for the next 10 years so it’s important that we make sure parents know to make sure their kids are counted.”
An additional group that Long has made sure to reach out to are real estate agents.
“These individuals are often the first point of contact for people new to our community,” said Long. “By engaging them we can help spread the message ever further.”
If your community has best practices for census to share, email Kristin.Goodale@OKcommerce.gov. We’d love to hear from you.