By Mary Anne Petrillo, CEO West Business Development Center

The United States Census Bureau launched their nationwide media campaign in January, and here in Mendocino County, a broad coalition of partners have come together to truly make sure everyone is counted. From United Way of Wine Country to The Community Foundation of Mendocino to the Latino Club at Ukiah High School to the Pomo Nation in Point Arena – people from all parts of the County are uniting for this all-important effort.  Your housing, your schools and even your personal wealth will be affected by the Census counts – so participating is crucial. And keep in mind, the Census is a vehicle to determine where the money you have already paid in the form of taxes, flows back out to help the community where you live.

We know that the census is crucial to congressional apportionment and redistricting – but census information is also the lifeblood of rural counties like ours who depend on small businesses for much of our local economy. There are so many factors affecting small businesses that reside on accurate Census counts, and this complex interweaving will have influence for years to come.

Census data influences laws that will affect your business 

Once we find our way out of the economic hit brought on by the pandemic, having accurate data will be essential for crafting better federal regulations and laws. These new local, state and federal laws can significantly mitigate challenges and boosts to your bottom line, depending on what they are. With more than 5.3 million companies in the U.S. with less than 20 employees, Census data will have a large impact on profitability. The Census also determines what type of the $900 billion of federal spending programs get doled out – and where. Everything from Opportunity Zones to mass transit is dependent on this information and these are strong influences on the economic conditions that small businesses operate within. 

Census data influences federal spending for programs 

In Mendocino County where there are over 600 nonprofits working as a safety net to provide everything from affordable housing to healthcare, to business loans accurate Census data is essential for their survival in our community. Important disaster relief and recovery funds as well as the ability for employees to buy homes and find housing can hinge on the data collected.  Money that can come for census data collection can support our small businesses and fund grants in our area, as well as for services including Medicare Part B, childcare and healthcare services.

Census contributes to the bottom line  

Businesses use population statistics to help decide in what communities they should open new offices or stores and where to add jobs or make investments. On the state and local level, funding for highways and roads get determined by the Census, as well as school funding, health clinics, and disaster response. In total, all of these things affect the economic conditions for small businesses, setting the stage if you will for the potential for a thriving local economy.

Mendocino County hardest area to count in the entire country

But one of the most important factors in the Census this year is that 13% of Mendocino County is one of the highest hard-to-count areas in the entire country. For residents, losing this count could mean the loss of more than $200 million in funding in the next ten years.

There is no doubt that at this moment in time there are many challenges we are facing as an individual and as a community. Taking the Census takes less than 10 minutes but the ramifications of NOT taking it will directly impact you and your family and your community for the next decade. Don’t sit on the sidelines

You can complete the census today:

We hope you’ll join us and be counted.  If you haven’t yet visited the Mendocino Counts website, you can do so by clicking here or visit the Facebook or Instagram pages listed below.

Mendocino Counts Census


Facebook page: 2020 Census Mendocino Counts

Instagram page: mendocounts2020


Census Business Builder

How to do Business in the Age of Corona Virus

As the number of California cases of COVID-19 rises, the team at West Business Development Center wants you to know we are here to help.

Stay informed and learn more about the resources available on our Corona Virus Resource Page Here.