“The census impacts everything we do,” Miller said. “Everything that you do has some tie to the census.”
RELATED: ‘We need to count everyone once and only once’
The four panelists discussed the need for accurate census data in order to get favorable congressional representation, adequate funding and to run a local municipality.
The count also helps draw boundaries for congressional, state and local districts. According to some studies, Miller said, Ohio is on track to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because it is not growing as quickly as some other states.
Miller, community relations manager for the Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the chair of the complete count committee, said there will be a “census bus” starting in April. From April 1 through the summer, one RTA bus will be equipped with WiFi so riders can fill out the 2020 Census.
Miller said the complete count committee has also partnered with the Dayton Metro Library to train librarians to be able to help people complete the census. Staff will be available to help people who have difficulties completing the census.
The Dayton-Montgomery County Complete Count Committee was established in 2018 to stress to residents the importance of completing the census.
Big money at stake in census
“This is just another access point for people,” Miller said. “We are trying to meet people where they are at.”
One project Dodge works on year-round is providing healthy food to Montgomery County citizens.
“We’ve had a lot of grocery stores closing, and it’s very difficult for a lot of these residents to get to grocery stores to get good, healthy food,” Dodge said. “We’re always applying for grants to try to get little grocery stands. If we don’t have that many people counted here, they’re going to say ‘Well, you’re on your own with that.’ That’s just one reason that this is so important.”
Bebbington, editor of the Dayton Daily News, said getting an accurate count is important to the newspaper, too.
“There’s not been an edition of the Dayton Daily News in the 27 years that I’ve been there that did not have at least one story that relied on census data in order to help tell that story,” Bebbington said. “The numbers that are generated this year, (the Dayton Daily News) will literally will use for the next decade.”
RELATED: Concerns raised over 2020 census accuracy, funding