The Northwest Arkansas Council has announced a business initiative to prioritize support for the 2020 census.
The council, John R. Tyson and Kara Wilkins have partnered to educate local community leaders in the hopes of catalyzing the business community’s leadership.
Tyson is the chief sustainability officer for Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale and a member of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Complete Count committee.
Wilkins leads Arkansas Counts, an organization focused on ensuring all Arkansans get counted in the 2020 census, with a focus on hard-to-count communities.
“The census helps define the nation — in particular cities and regions — in terms of population and demographic makeup,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the council, in a news release. “This information is important to businesses for marketing and growth opportunities and data-driven decisions. In addition, census data establishes the baseline for the distribution of federal funding and legislative districts.”
The Arkansas State Data Center estimates a 1% undercount in northwest Arkansas could result in $170 million in lost funds over 10 years for Benton and Washington counties.
Tyson and Wilkins provided best practices and asked businesses to make a commitment to support the census to ensure an accurate count.
Among those best practices are creating printed materials and communications, setting up information booths, designating one or more individuals within a company to take ownership of the census initiative and creating safe spaces within company offices for employees to ask questions or complete the census.
Tyson and Wilkins also emphasized the importance of partnering with trusted voices within specific communities to reach Arkansas’ hard-to-count population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 30% to 40% of the population in Washington and Benton counties could represent hard-to-count populations, attributable to immigration and income status.
As part of this initiative, the Council and EngageNWA created a census toolkit that makes the business case for support and provides resources to reach those populations.