The Daviess County Complete Count Committee, a regional coalition of educational, social service and government partners, will launch a local U.S. Census information blitz at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster Breakfast on March 28.

There, officials say they will begin the process of connecting the business community with U.S. Census Bureau representatives, which is an important first step in helping to ensure the most accurate local count in 2020.

Although the nationwide census takes place only every 10 years, a lot of work takes place especially in the months beforehand, and the local complete count committee, or CCC, is helping fill in the gaps, especially for low-income, refugee, immigrant or non-English-speaking individuals who are often considered at risk of being under-counted.

"The main barriers for these groups are trust and language," said Susan Montalvo-Gesser, director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Owensboro. "The most important way to break through those barriers are through using trusted individuals."

That's often why the Census Bureau relies on local committees to make connections and get ahead of the curve on misinformation related to the census or census takers, says committee Chairperson Keith Sanders.

Neighborhoods primarily between Crabtree Avenue and Leitchfield Road have been tagged by the University of Louisville's Kentucky State Data Center as low-response score block groups where mail-in returns could be as low as 50 percent next year. Other areas of concern include Owensboro's far-western neighborhoods near Ben Hawes Park, southwestern reaches near the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, and the entire community of Maceo, south of the William H. Natcher Bridge, data shows.

The federal government allocates more than $675 billion annually to state, local and tribal governments. In other words, census officials say, for every one person unaccounted for in a census, the community loses out on at least $2,000 in federal funding.

According to Jacklyn Graves, membership development and marketing manager for the chamber, the census kick-off event later this month will be focused on informing people both about what the census is and what steps will be taken soon as the bureau ramps up local activities.

In-field address canvassing is set to begin nationwide on Aug. 19. That's the complicated process of ensuring that the census knows where all habitable residences in the nation are, and it's data that goes into the enumeration process that begins this time next year.

In-field address canvassers and census takers are being hired now, and the CCC is encouraging local people to apply by calling 1-855-JOB-2020 or by visiting 2020census.gov/jobs.

Austin Ramsey, 270-691-7302, aramsey@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @austinrramsey

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