Priorities Abound

March 22, 2020Doug Peters, President and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Let me lead by saying that I am truly sorry for all that you, your families and your associates have been through in the last week. It’s been unlike anything I’ve ever seen. 

 

From the craziest rumors, tightening down of restrictions, running wide open to shift how we all do business, all while juggling rolling emotion and uncertainty, that was one week we’d all like to forget. 

 

And while we fully expect things to get worse before they get better, I’ve been proud of my city, our health system leaders and especially our community members and the small businesses they love.

 

I’ve said this before:  if you’re lucky enough to be in Abilene, Texas, you’re lucky enough. 

 

Somebody just needs to make this all go away, don’t they?  I wish I could. 

 

As much as we wish it would just go away, our community has some important business to take care of. 

 

I’m talking about the Census. 

 

Last week, you probably got some mail from the U.S. Census Bureau and if you didn’t, you will in the next few days. It reminds you that it is Census time. 

 

It gives you a web address (www.2020census.gov) to complete the form for your family. I did mine while on a conference call – it took me seven minutes. 

 

This is the first time you could do the Census online. In addition, there is a mail option, a phone option and as a last chance opportunity, a Census enumerator will drop by your house to gather the information. 

 

Just what you need, right? An enumerator at your door. 

 

There’s absolutely no reason to wait. The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations. The questions cover the number of people living at or staying in the address, along with the age, sex and race of each of the residents. 

 

That’s it. 

 

The information that comes out from this constitutionally-mandated accounting every decade is important not just to the general populace, but equally business.

 

The first thing that comes to my mind is apportionment. If you’ve forgotten your civics class, that’s the process of determining the proportional number of representatives that each state will send to the U.S. House. 

 

It is likely that the number of people in Congress representing Texas today (36) will grow as the state’s population has.

 

The Census provides the data used to make those determinations.

 

Federal money to individuals, cities, counties and states is determined in some part by the Census data. That money totals more than $675 billion annually that is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. Those entities all have business ties.  And getting our hard-earned money sent back where it came from is a good thing. 

 

Other Census data inform businesses about trends in residency, giving information that business can use to make siting decisions for everything from offices to factories to stores. Your favorite shop might be located where it is based on Census data.

 

So why not complete your Census today?

 

Some, who might not have all the facts, may say, “I don’t want to share all this information.”

 

First, “all this information” is only a few questions that take about 10 minutes to answer.

 

Second, by law, the individual information is protected, secure and secret for 72 years. The National Archives in two years will release the 1950 Census information.

 

Finally, every Census employee takes an oath swearing to protect your personal information for life.

 

I know we’re all stressed, worried and busy. But this is an important priority and there’s no better time to check this off the list than right now. 

 

Members, I’m here for you. My tank is full, I’m motivated, and I’m surrounded by the most capable professional staff anywhere. We want to help you through this in any way we can. And we’ll get through it. Together. 

 

That’s the Abilene way. 

 

Onward!

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