The 2020 Census will be the single greatest source of data that American businesses will use to learn about the market, demographics, and growth potential throughout the next decade. The federal funds that each state receives based on our census data influences local, state, and regional investments in areas such as education, workforce development, infrastructure, and health care.
When business leaders think about where to set up shop, they consider many factors. Will the company have access to the materials needed to drive revenue? Will an area’s roads and water systems meet the demands of production? How prepared is the average resident to jump into the work? Businesses rely on census information to answer these and many other questions.
Resources available to support residents also impact businesses’ financial growth and potential for expansion. Not only will a one percent undercount in the census result in nearly $1 billion lost in federal funding to Arkansas, it could result in millions lost by Arkansas businesses. Therefore, the more accurate the count is, the better employers can plan for the future.
What Businesses Can Do
Employers have several opportunities to help Get Out the Count in Arkansas. Businesses naturally engage many people, ranging from employees to customers, and folks often listen to and trust what businesses have to say. Here are a few simple actions businesses can take:
Publicly encourage staff to participate in the census and put up signage where customers interact between now and April 2020. This could significantly increase the number of residents who take the survey regardless of company size.
Have access to broadband Internet and computers? Then set up places for employees and customers to get counted. This will be the first census to be completed online. Because Arkansas ranks 48th in Internet connectivity, stores can provide access to basic technology to markedly increase census participation in your community.
Communities often rely on businesses to provide jobs as well as goods and services that impact local quality of life. That is why employers
often have the ear of policymakers. Business leaders have a unique opportunity to work with elected officials to share the message and invest in communication to encourage residents to participate in the census and get family members, friends, and colleagues to do the same.
Business leaders can encourage other business leaders to Get Out the Count. Company leaders are able to share why the census matters and what others can do to get residents counted at local chambers of commerce and civic club meetings. It is especially important to prioritize hard-to-count communities — many businesses employ and serve individuals living in rural communities, immigrants, elderly people, and others who are at-risk of being undercounted next year.
Engaging Your Team
In collaboration with Arkansas Impact Philanthropy and Arkansas Counts, businesses can support efforts in our community to help our team members complete the census in the following ways:
Establishing census champions who will assist in promoting and educating other team members about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census.
Developing census reminder materials and messaging to include on our our paystubs and place in areas where team members frequent. We have also developed a census toolkit that will be provided in English, Spanish, and Marshallese languages.
Partnering with local community organizations such as Arkansas United and the Arkansas Coalition for the Marshallese to set up census support sites at 13 of our plant locations. These sites will allow team members to have the opportunity to complete the census at one of our facilities and receive technical assistance, if needed.
Let’s Make Arkansas Count
Businesses both large and small can engage their local communities and municipalities in a variety of ways. If you’re a business leader, take action to Get Out the Count and share this on your website, company newsletter, or with at least two other employers to give them ideas on how to get involved. Also, check out www.census.gov or www.arcounts.org for additional resources to share with business leaders in your network. Together, we can make sure that Arkansas Counts for all!