Efforts to build awareness for next year's population count are underway as census workers reach out to local governments.
Damon Cannon, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, is working with local leaders to form a complete count committee. He spoke to the Cape Girardeau County Commission at its Monday morning meeting.
"There are certain pockets of influence, certain community leaders that we need to contact," he said.
He said he will work with the county to identify faith, community and business leaders to determine how to build awareness for the 2010 census on a local level.
"We may even go down to the city level in some areas," he said.
Once the group forms, he said they will focus the bulk of their efforts on the next nine months leading up to the head count. An organizational meeting will be scheduled in the future to start planning efforts.
The census will begin in mid-March. Area residents will receive a 10-question survey from the government. The count determines the number of members in the U.S. House of Representative for each state and is the base for federal funding levels for local programs.
The bureau is expected to hire about 140 people in the county to work temporarily in the area and about 6,000 workers statewide. Beginning in September, the bureau will also have a temporary office on South Silver Springs Road, which will administer operations for the region.
Cannon said he is working with groups in Southeast Missouri to establish other awareness campaigns, including an initial meeting in Perry County. He said Cape Girardeau County could apply for $3,000 from the bureau to use toward publicity efforts.
He said the goal is to increase the county's response rate. The biggest challenge of the count is getting responses from college students, rural residents and tenants who relocate often, he said. The awareness campaign will target those groups to make sure they are familiar with the process early on, Cannon said.
"Those people count," he said. "When a storm happens you need to service those people as much as taxpayers."
623 S. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO