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Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution mandates every individual in the country be counted in his or her community, and the next census occurs in April 2020.
The census means money, assistance and representation for the community, and Sumter qualifies for $1,499 per year for each counted individual in the community, according to George Washington University.
This means more money for transportation projects, community improvement efforts, education upgrades and health care improvements throughout our immediate area.
"For Sumter, it's about fair representation and equitable access to federal resources that will help the community," City Project Manager Jason Stoddard said. "It seems like Sumter's growing, and we would like the census to kind of confirm that."
The census provides vital information for members in the community.
It determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and draws district boundaries.
Communities rely on census statistics to plan for residential needs, such as new roads, schools and emergency services.
Businesses use census data to determine where to place the business demographically.
Based on census data, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion each year in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities.
Each year, a one percent undercount of the population in Sumter County could result in a loss of more than $1.6 million in federal assistance, provided through programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, highway planning and construction, Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Title 1 grants to local education agencies.
"We're trying to create as many census ambassadors as we can. We see it as educational awareness and motivation. They understand the importance of the census," Stoddard said.
Stoddard and committee members and census ambassadors have attended various events in the Sumter community to educate people on how important the census is to the city and county.
The Count Committee of Sumter County includes Bonnie Disney, co-chair; the Rev. James Blassingame, co-chair; and Carolina Cruz, Hispanic adviser, as well as 10 other committee members.
"We want as many people to know," Stoddard said. "We've done a lot already, and we're going to keep doing more."
For the first time, with Census 2020, people can respond online, by phone or mail to be accounted for in their communities.
Thanks to updated technology, counting individuals will be much easier than before, and most addresses in the U.S. will receive a postcard with instructions on how to participate.
Participating in the 2020 Census is a civic duty and community effort.
Keep in mind, every person living in the home must be accounted for. From newborn to child to elder, they must be counted to ensure accurate statistics for the city and county of Sumter.
For more information about Census 2020, visit sumtercensus.com.
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