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2020 Census: Minot needs everyone to be counted

The 2020 Census is fast approaching, and the national once-every-decade population count is an opportunity to confirm what we’ve been anticipating: Minot’s population has hit the 50,000 mark.

By April 1, 2020, every home in the United States will receive an invitation by mail to take part in the 2020 Census. You can respond to the mailing or participate online, or by phone.

Like every community around the country, it’s vital to Minot’s future that we gain an accurate count of our residents. One recent estimate put Minot’s population at 47,500, although there is a general feeling that our actual population is closer to 50,000. In terms of the Census, reaching the 50,000 level would make an enormous difference for Minot.

There are several real and lasting benefits of reaching the 50,000 plateau.

First, Minot would be designated an “entitlement community” and receive an annual grant through the Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program. Those funds, which could be between $250,000 and $400,000 annually for Minot, could be used for a wide variety of purposes, including economic development, public infrastructure and some forms of housing assistance. By reaching 50,000 in population, we would be guaranteed that funding annually until the 2030 Census. That funding can make a real difference in the City’s annual budget, and help lower local property tax rates.

Another benefit of reaching 50,000 in population is that Minot would qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area, which provide annual updates on a wide range of data including housing vacancy rates, population demographics, and employment trends. That data is critical when applying for a number of federal grants, and it would allow Minot to market itself as a metropolitan area, opening up potential new opportunities in tourism, investments, and businesses.

Bismarck, Fargo, and Grand Forks are already considered Metropolitan Statistical Areas and entitlement grantees, putting Minot at a distinct competitive disadvantage when recruiting new businesses or other investment opportunities.

According to information provided by www.2020census.gov, many national business chains use Census data when considering where to open new stores and restaurants, where to expand current operations, and which products and services to offer. And many of those business chains use 50,000 as a minimum population for a city to be considered for a new business.

The data from a Census also helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities. Disaster recovery efforts rely on Census data to tailor relief for affected homes and businesses, and emergency planners use the data to plan for the worst. Having been through an enormous natural disaster in 2011, Minot residents know all-too-well the process of navigating the multitude of federal disaster relief programs.

It’s relatively simple to be counted as part of Census 2020. You can reply online, by phone, or by regular mail when you receive the information packet sometime before April 1, 2020. All information is kept confidential. If someone says they are from the Census Bureau and asks for your Social Security number, your political affiliation, bank or credit card numbers, or seeks money, it’s a scam.

You can find more information at www.2020census.gov.

At the City, we’ll be rolling out educational information to help our residents understand the benefits of making sure we’re all counted. Often, the most challenging populations to accurately count can be children under 5, and those living in group settings, like students living in the dorms at Minot State University or military members living in housing at Minot Air Force Base. We want to help make the process as easy as possible for everyone.

If you’re concerned about the Census counting you as a Minot resident and affecting your citizenship elsewhere, don’t worry. In fact, you don’t need to be a United States citizen to be included; you only need to live in Minot for six months and one day to be counted as a Minot resident.

Minot will always be a big small town, so to speak, given our attitude of helping each other, especially during times of crisis. But we still need to know exactly how big our community has become; the 2020 Census will help us accomplish that goal.

Sincerely, City Hall

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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