According to Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post staff writer, "Next year's census will cost at least $15 billion, more than any previous count. The bureau is under pressure from Congress and advocacy groups to provide a more accurate tally of Hispanics and other minority groups than in the past. The bureau received $1 billion in stimulus funding to help prepare for the census and will devote up to $250 million for advertising and outreach programs to help boost participation levels among traditionally undercounted groups, mostly minorities in urban areas."
Downtown Conyers Community (DCC) has completed its research and fact finding on the many ways the entity can get involved and support the 2010 Census. It has also recently reached out to the county and the Commissioners' office on what steps they are taking. The DCC looks forward to working with Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations Julie Mills, who has also begun an initiative. Downtown Conyers Community has also connected with the census partnership specialist that serves Rockdale County. Its plans are to partner with the County's Complete Count Committee (CCC), establish one of its own, and encourage as many entities as possible to follow suit.
The DCC encourages local entities such as DDA's, NAACP's, Neighborhood Associations, Downtown Business Councils, stakeholders, student groups etc., to become a "huge dog in this hunt," by getting an early start on the 2010 season.
According to Andrew Smith, a planning consultant with HNTB, which was hired for the county's Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update, "the population in Rockdale County was projected to be about 108,000 by 2010; currently the population is about 84,600." The DCC posits Rockdale County is in the overflow and an early census start would be a type of securing the levies before the floodgate breaks.
The U.S. Census Bureau encourages support as a 2010 Census partner. Here's why:
• Every year, more than $300 billion in federal funds are awarded to states and communities based on census data. That's more than $3 trillion distributed over a 10-year period.
• Census datas guide local decision-makers in important community planning efforts, including where to build new roads, hospitals and schools.
• Census datas affect your voice in Congress. The census determines how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the redistricting of state legislatures, county and city councils, and voting districts. See, 2010 Census Partnership Agreement Form.
We live in a country where globalization has significantly changed the political landscape of our communities. It is always the DCC's desire to aid the community in its understanding of the impact of diversity that will help to "forge community rather than contention." We believe an accurate census count in Rockdale County alone will provide numbers concrete enough to substantiate the claim that although Georgia's political landscape has changed, there remains solid vision for a flourishing Georgia.
Kathy Harvey is a member of the Downtown Conyers Community and the state representative for the Rockdale County Democratic Party.