Group forms to up Census responses

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — As the 2020 Census approaches, community leaders are encouraging city and county residents to make sure they digitally file the necessary information with the federal government in order to ensure government programs allocate accurate funds in the future.

From infrastructure improvements to school funding, Census data is widely used by multiple branches of both the state and federal government to set allocation amounts. Development of new policy and research also depends on the large data set, and when census tracts return lower percentages of respondents, accuracy can be a concern.

To ensure high response rates, local leaders have formed the Lima/Allen County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. The group’s efforts will focus on highlighting the importance of census participation and offering the necessary resources to residents. Lima Mayor David Berger and Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg have chosen to serve as committee chairs.

“In 2010, 78% of the citizens of Allen County participated in the Census, which left roughly $50 million in potential funding on the table,” Lima Allen County Regional Planning Commission Director Thom Mazur stated in a press release. “We hope to increase the participation rate for 2020 by at least 10%.”

Complicating the issue this year is the federal government’s move to digitize filing of Census information. Residents are expected to begin receiving postcards from the U.S. Census Bureau beginning in March, which will have the necessary information to go online and file the information.

To ensure an accurate count, the Lima Public Library is offering the use of its public terminals and help from its librarians for those without Internet access or computer know-how. A quarter of Allen County residents do not have Internet access in their homes.

“The Lima Public Library is committed to serving as a resource for connecting people to the Internet, and we welcome people visiting our branches to use our public computers and our Wi-Fi to complete the Census.”

Other organizations in Allen County involved with the complete Census effort include the City of Delphos, the Village of Bluffton, Lima schools, Bath schools, the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, the Lima/Allen County Regional Planning Commission, the Lima Public Library, the West Ohio Food Bank, West Ohio Community Action Partnership, the United Way of Greater Lima and Activate Allen County. Representatives from religious groups, minority communities, civic organizations, the business community and nonprofits also serve on the committee.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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