Mark Trowbridge: Stand Up & Be Counted!

Mark Trowbridge

From the time we are very young, we are taught to count to 10 and memorize our ABC’s.  These are fundamental to our early growth and the building blocks of both literacy and learning.

The United States Census is also an essential aspect of our national growth, where every ten years all of our people are counted.  All of them.

The US Constitution empowers Congress to carry out the Census in “such manner as they shall by law direct”.  The founders of our burgeoning nation had an ambitious plan to empower the people and their new government.  This required an initial assessment of who was here.  The idea was bold – to count every person living in the newly created United States of America and to use that count to determine representation in Congress.  That’s right – every person!

This means that no matter your current status, your income level, your primary residence, your education level or even your employment situation, you shall and must be counted.

So, on April 1st of this year – National Census Day – the process will officially begin for 2020.  But, in truth, the work began months ago, as directed by the US Commerce Department, with the Miami-Dade County’s Complete Count Task Force leading the way, under the direction of Commissioner Esteban Bovo and supported by all of his colleagues.  Our Chamber has been a part of this effort, along with our sister organizations, especially as it relates to the business community, our workforce and your families.

In 2010, our last Census, some believe that portions of our county were undercounted by up to 30%, with children under the age of four the most likely to be missed.  This not only affected our representation and voice in Washington, DC, it also significantly affected our funding and impacted our resources for the decade to follow.  The Department of Commerce estimates that for every person not counted, it can equate to $1800 in federal dollars that do not flow back into the municipality or state in which they live.  That is $18,000 over the next decade in unrealized resources for Florida.

Furthermore, as our state has grown to over 21 million residents in the last ten years, now representing the third largest in the US and boasting a trillion-dollar economy, it is essential that we are counted fully.  This growth could mean a minimum of one new representative in Congress, possibly two.  Only an accurate and complete count will ensure our rightful representation and position Florida as the major power player in national issues we deserve to be.

The Census helps all of our local governments receive the resources they need to serve “we the people” at the neighborhood level.  The Census is not designed to be punitive; it is a constitutional mandate that ensures a complete count of all our people.  There is no reason to fear participating in the process even as the negative rhetoric swirls about.  It is a fundamental aspect of living in the United States no matter your status.

To help further assuage any of these ongoing fears, we are asking that each of our local businesses make sure your employees are educated on the importance of the count and that they in turn ensure that everyone in their household is counted.  This process can be done on-line, via a printed form (which many will remember from 2000 and 2010 and will be mailed in early 2020), or directly to an enumerator who will visit any home that has not yet completed and submitted their forms.  Our last report is that every single address in Miami-Dade County has been verified and submitted for inclusion in the Census.  This also includes new construction that will be occupied by April 1.

Finally, please commit to talk about the Census in your staff meetings, share the messaging that our local Chambers will be posting over the next year, and most importantly, follow-up and follow-through with your people as often as it takes to ensure a complete count.  For the first time our business community is engaging in the Census process and we need your help in spreading the word and doing our part.

It is our singular goal to make sure every one stands up and is counted.

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