Special to the Union-Bulletin

The Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce urges all of its members and local businesses to get the word out that everyone should complete the 2020 Census.  April 1, 2020 is the kick-off of the 2020 Census. People will have several ways to complete their Census form and be counted — through the internet, by completing a mailed form or by responding to a door-to-door canvasser.

With your help we can respond online or by mail — the least expensive methods — and be a Complete Count Community, not a hard-to-count community like we were in 2010.

Beyond being part and parcel of our democracy (it’s in the Constitution!), an accurate census is key to business. Business relies on Census data for planning, buying, marketing, business location, communications, employment and all aspects of running a business. Knowing one’s customers, where they are, who they are, how to communicate with them — all starts with Census data. Without accuracy, businesses in Walla Walla will not have the tools they need — all data-based.

In the State of Washington it is estimated that for every person not counted $2,000 a year is lost in federal revenue allocated on a per capita basis, or $20,000 over a decade. These are funds our county, cities and other public agencies rely on.

To undercount is to be underpaid. For the good of all, we need these resources to provide essential public services.  

During the last Census, in 2010, Walla Walla County had a response rate estimated at only 69 percent of the people in the county. Who was undercounted?  They were children under age 5 and their families, low-income people, people of color, among others.

Business leadership can encourage people to respond, to provide accurate information about how the Census is used including privacy protections and generally be supportive of the census itself.  

A local committee is forming to promote the Census in general and to undercounted communities in particular. Local philanthropies, The Sherwood Trust and the Blue Mountain Community Foundation have joined together to make funding available to educate people about the Census.  

The generous and forward-thinking Sherwood Trust has created a $25,000 fund at BMCF for this purpose. Anyone may give to this Fund at BMCF.

Other members of the committee represent city of College Place, Walla Walla County, United Way, Blue Mountain Action Council and counting. Blue Mountain Community Foundation is pleased to be part of this collaborative effort — it has been a member of the Chamber for many years and its executive director is on the Board of Directors.

For more information on how to get involved, please contact Kyle Tarbet at Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, Danielle Garbe Reser of the Sherwood Trust at 509-592-2791 or Kari Isaacson at 509-529-4371 for more information.

Kari Isaacson is executive director of the Blue Mountain Community Foundation.

Kyle Tarbet is CEO of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.