With $8 billion at stake, Census 2020 data will impact business in Nevada | nnbw.com
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With $8 billion at stake, Census 2020 data will impact business in Nevada

Kevin Dick, district health officer of the Washoe County Health District, speaks during the Census 2020 kick-off event on Jan. 30 at the Washoe County Library in downtown Reno.
Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel

RENO, Nev. — Eight billion. That’s roughly how many dollars the Silver State could receive from the federal government over the next 10 years — that is, if every Nevadan participates in the 2020 Census.

America’s newest census — a headcount of each person who resides in the United States as of April 1, 2020 — will help determine how over $675 billion of federal funding is spent each year on state-level infrastructure and services.  

This is why state and local leaders in Nevada are striving to educate communities about the benefits of participating in the census.

That effort in Reno started Jan. 30. Nevada Census 2020, a statewide outreach effort to ensure a complete and accurate count of all Nevadans, held a kick-off event at the Washoe County Library.

Kevin Dick, district health officer of the Washoe County Health District, told those in attendance that each Nevadan counted would earn the state about $20,000 apiece over the next decade.

In other words: “If five people don’t complete the census, that’s $100,000 we just lost right there,” Dick said. “This is real money. And it’s our money — we pay for it through our taxes — so it’s really important that we bring this back here to Nevada.”

Indeed, because the census is conducted once a decade, an inaccurate count can have long-lasting effects.

“By being counted, you’re helping Washoe County,” Dick said. “Because that data helps determine how much money goes toward our schools; healthcare and hospitals; maintaining and repairing our roads; supporting our public safety services, like fire and police; it provides for workforce development and other programs that help our community thrive.”

Census impact on business

Which begs the question, what impact does the census have on the business community? In other words, why should the census matter to businesses, big and small, in Northern Nevada and beyond?

For one, Reno-Sparks’ fast-growing economy could slow considerably if the census data doesn’t accurately capture Nevada’s growth over the past decade. After all, projections by the U.S. Census Bureau showed Nevada and Idaho were the nation’s fastest-growing states in 2018, with population upticks of 2.1 percent.

“Companies and small businesses are going to look at census data and they’re going to decide where to build their stores, factories, restaurants, even housing developments in the future,” Kerry Durmick, statewide census coordinator for Nevada Census 2020, told the NNBW. “And this is going to affect Nevada because it’s going to create new jobs, which in turn can create needs for new housing.”

City of Sparks councilman Kristopher Dahir, who’s on the Nevada Census 2020 committee, said getting sufficient federal funding for repairing and expanding Northern Nevada’s roadways is especially important for the business community.

“Our federal funds affect transportation and how people get to work, and how we end up expanding our roads,” Dahir said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “If we can’t show we have the kind of population that we say we do in our census, you’re not going to get that federal money no matter what we tell them.”

Dahir also pointed out the fact that federal dollars from the census go toward the state’s education system. Nevada routinely ranks near the bottom in various national rankings of the states’ public education systems.

That fact, Dahir said, can factor into a company’s decision of whether or not to relocate or expand to Nevada.

“We’re in a place where we have to be attracting businesses, and most businesses want to know that our schools are moving in the right direction,” he added.

How to get involved

For businesses already in Northern Nevada, Dahir said they can do their part by promoting the census to their employees and customers alike.

As an example, Dahir said the Truckee Meadows Water Authority will include informative leaflets in its customer bills. Notably, Dahir is the vice chair of TMWA’s board of directors.

“All that kind of stuff just helps us use the reach we have as a business to get the information out there,” he said.

From now until the end of May, Durmick said Nevada Census 2020 is engaging with businesses throughout the state, asking owners to put up flyers or decals in their storefronts to raise awareness about the census.

Moreover, Dahir said businesses are being challenged to give employees a 10-minute break on Census Day (April 1, 2020) specifically to complete the census, which for the first time can be done online.

Businesses interested in learning more about the census and finding ways to get involved should visit census.nv.gov.