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Latino business owners meet with census committee

Although the majority of the meeting was held in Spanish, it was not hard to understand big steps were taken Thursday as members of the Franklin County 2020 Census Committee met with Latino business owners about using the census to foster unity in the community.

Guillermo Vasquez led the Spanish portion of the meeting, discussing ideas with Latino business owners about  the best way to ensure an accurate census count among the Latino population.

The main goal of the meeting was to form a partnership between local Latino-owned businesses and the census committee to help educate people about the census and promote it among the Latino community.

“You all know how much of a challenge it can be to get Latinos to fill out information to send in when they don’t trust the government,” said Franklin County Census Committee senior coordinator Dick Rowland. “I wouldn’t trust the government either.”

Rowland said this year will be the first time a census will be available by internet, phone and mail. He said this is important for people to know so they do not worry about representatives from the census knocking on their doors.

The census gives a number of how many people – regardless of citizenship status – live in an area, so government funds can be apportioned accordingly. Alabama receives almost $1,600 a year each year for each individual counted in the census. This money goes toward community needs at the state, county and city level, such as public schools, emergency services and housing assistance.

There were 12 local businesses represented at the meeting. Along with learning about the census, business owners were given information about the benefits of joining the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

The census will begin March 2020. The census will not include questions about Social Security numbers or employers. Questions on the census will include phone number and names of all family members, to ensure no one is counted twice.

For more information on the census, visit franklincountyal.org/2020-census. Rowland and Vasquez are coordinating with Franklin County Commissioner Jason Miller to spearhead promotional efforts.