The 2020 Census. Just Do It.
By Chris Clark, Georgia Chamber President & CEO
When Nike launched its “Just Do It” campaign in 1988, no one had any idea what would become of such a simple phrase. In just 10 years, the company’s worldwide sales skyrocketed from $800-million to over $9-billion, annually. Three words was all it took to make the difference of a lifetime. I often think of what it might be like to make that sort of impact in my hometown of Fitzgerald, Georgia, and am reminded that 2020 is a Census year! Impact on an exponential level for local and rural communities across Georgia can be achieved if every resident will take 2-minutes to “just do it”. The Census is an opportunity for local governments and non-profits to ensure that our local tax dollars are returned via federal funding, for projects and essential infrastructure that can make the same difference that Nike did in ten years, especially in smaller communities where opportunity often lacks investment.
Based on Census counts the federal government will distribute more than $1.5 trillion. Due to an undercount in 2010, Georgia lost about $708 per citizen of our own taxes because the state receives funding according to each person counted. According to the George Washington Institute for Public Policy, for every citizen counted, the state of Georgia receives more than $2,300 per citizen from the federal government. This amounts to almost $24 billion in federal funds across 55 different programs. These 55 programs include funds for school lunches for students, financial aid to low-income students pursuing higher education (Pell grants), community development block grants that support local economic development projects and subsequent job growth, Medicaid and Peach Care for kids (CHIP) who need it most, and funds devoted to rural programs that help infuse the state’s largest industry of agriculture. These are our hard-earned dollars and when we do not get counted other states benefit from our labor.
The Census also delivers accurate statistics that guide research and government planning that can truly meet the needs of the residents each of our local governments serve. It is arguably more powerful than the vote, itself, in terms of the impact that a single citizen can have on the outcome of a community’s collective future. It is your right to live in this great state, your duty to vote and your responsibility to see that the appropriate funding and support are given to each of your respective communities.
COVID-19 has impacted all of us, shutting down businesses, putting hardworking Georgians in the unemployment line, wreaking havoc on our educational institutions, affecting the manner in which we interact and threatening the very essence of life and livelihood. The 2020 Census is probably the most critical step any one individual can take to helping themselves and everyone they care about move more swiftly through recovery and into a more resilient future. This count is critical for a New Georgia Economy where the foundation is firmer, pathways are clearer, opportunity is more ample and our state is a consistently stronger climate where we can live, work, pray and play together, rural, and urban alike.
Help bring critical funding to Georgia through the 2020 Census. Just Do it. For more information, go to census.georgia.gov.