Stand up and be counted.That’s the message from Guilford County regarding the new 2020 census being conducted nationally next year.  Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing said this week that, in order to make sure residents of Guilford County are adequately accounted for, the county is forming a 2020 Census Complete-Count Committee.

“The whole idea is to encourage participation,” the county manager said.  “You have certain demographics and areas in the community that are hard to reach.  They may have different concerns about the census as far as information not being kept confidential.  The idea is to educate the public on what the census is, how the information will be used and how important it is to our county.”

At a Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this month, Lawing got permission from the board to establish the committee and begin putting together a list of names of committee members.

“Typically, the census bureau encourages counties to establish a complete county committee,” Lawing said, “which is made up of government, education, business and community leaders that will go through a training session – and they will go out and do outreach in the community and try to encourage people in the community to participate in the census.  They’ll also work on developing a 2020 census awareness campaign.” 

According to Lawing, 2020 might seem like it’s a long way off and it’s early to start thinking about this, but he added that it most certainly is not. 

“The 2020 census is coming up very soon,” the county manager said, “almost a year from now.  April 1, 2020, will be Census Day.  We’ve got about a year to prepare for the census.” 

“The census is very important “ Lawing added, noting that, by some estimates, the state of North Carolina is likely to add a new US House seat as a result of the state’s predicted population numbers for the next census.

“So it’s very important that people fill out the paperwork,” Lawing said.

He added that, in next year’s census, people will be able to answer questions online in addition to filling out the paper forms used in the past.  

At the commissioners meeting on Thursday, April 4, Lawing said he had some experience in this type of effort. 

“I have done this before in another county with quite a bit of success working with the media and the faith community and others,” he told the board.

Lawing said that he’s currently developing a list of prospective members based on “best practices” suggested by the US Census Bureau.  He also asked the commissioners to suggest names of people who they thought would serve the committee well.