Stand Up and Be Counted — It Matters

CRAIG COOK Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Officer

How important is the 2020 census? For rural areas like ours, $675 billion is at stake.

In mid-March the U.S. Census Bureau will send postcards to most addresses in Texas and across the country. That is one of the more important pieces of mail you will receive in 2020. Why does the census matter to your broadband and voice provider, and why am I using this space to encourage you to participate?

Simply put, our part of Texas has a lot to gain from accurate census numbers — and a lot to lose if we aren’t all counted. These risks and benefits come in three main areas dependent on census data: government funding, political representation and statistics for economic growth.

According to the Census Bureau, census data determines the spending of more than $675 billion in federal funds. That can mean anything from schools, roads, and equipment for first responders to grants for rural development or programs that help those in need. Many of those projects seek to do the most good for the most people — and without an accurate count of each and every household resident, that funding may go elsewhere.

As you may have heard if you follow political news, census data is used to draw and redraw districts for state and federal lawmakers. The number of Congressional leaders representing Texas is dependent on our population. If Texas residents fail to provide accurate counts of household members, then our state runs the risk of losing much-needed representation. The same thing is true on a more local level in the state legislature. If the counties in our region come up short on the population count, we could lose a legislator who has our rural interest at heart — creating a more difficult time making our area’s concerns heard in Austin.

Lastly, our area’s population is a key factor in almost all statistics businesses look at when considering a market in which to build. Whether it’s a fast-food restaurant or an industrial plant, corporate managers are looking at our population when it comes to customer base, workforce and market potential. Showing a lower population on the census, because many people weren’t counted, would make our area less appealing for businesses.

Therefore, I urge you to keep a watchful eye on your mail in the coming weeks and be sure to be counted!