Census worker

Before the 2020 census begins, Nicollet and Le Sueur Counties are planning outreach to ensure residents know the importance of the census. The upcoming census is especially important because Minnesota is at risk of losing a seat in the United States Congress. (Submitted photo)

The upcoming 2020 census will be a critical one for the state of Minnesota and locally.

The United States census, a constitutionally mandated survey of the country’s population, collects data determining the number of representatives each state will have in the United States House. Minnesota is looking at potentially losing a representative, and city and county officials in Nicollet and Le Sueur counties are working to ensure the census reaches as many Minnesotans as possible.

“It’s extremely important that we get a complete accurate count of the population,” said Nicollet County Administrator Ryan Krosch. “That data directs funding flows from the federal government to the state for the next 10 years.”

It’s especially important for Minnesota,” Krosch added. “Our state is in danger of losing a Congressional seat … The more people that turn out, the more it will help us keep that seat.”

According to the state of Minnesota, the state could lose $28,000 in federal funding over the next 10 years for each person that isn’t counted.

To help increase turnout, Nicollet County has met the U.S. Census Bureau and received training in forming a Complete Count Committee. This committee is responsible for ensuring that people within the county are aware of the census and understand why it’s important to fill it out. The county plans on providing information through the Nicollet County government’s official website, Facebook page, and handouts at departments.

Other local towns are also taking action to form their own complete count committees. The city of Le Center created its own committee and is waiting to hear back from the Census Bureau after requesting training before the committee takes action.

“We want to reach people in all sorts of places,” said Le Center City Administrator Chris Collins. “Facebook, utility bills, you name it. Churches, businesses, schools, daycares … It’s our goal to hit some of the town events and hand out flyers.”

“We don’t call people, we don’t fill out census forms, we don’t go door to door, none of that,” Collins added. “We are simply trying to enlighten people that the census is coming out next year; it’s really important you fill it out and send it back.”

St. Peter’s proposed complete count committee, which was voted on by the City Council Monday, Oct. 7, is planned to put an extra emphasis on outreach to populations in St. Peter that belong to under-counted demographics, including immigrants, latinos, non-Engilsh speakers, youth and “snowbirds.”

“We want to be making sure that historically under-counted sub-communities participate,” said St. Peter City Administrator Todd Prafke. “The census is the basis of the distribution of lots of funds, and its not just for the state. Getting a complete count is good for the private sector. People don’t talk about this element as much, but businesses use census data too.”

The United States Census will be conducted on National Census Day, April 1, 2020. The census counts all residents regardless of status, including citizens, permanent residents, long-term visitors and people living in the country illegally.

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8572.

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