ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida leaders hosted a news conference Wednesday morning urging Floridians to participate in the 2020 Census.
Local leaders say federal census count is crucial because if Florida is under represented by the count - it could cause the state millions of dollars.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings echoed similar sentiments, stating they've also appointed chairpersons to lead efforts to encourage residents to participate in the decenntennial event.
"Orange County, with a population of about 1.3 million people makes us the fifth most populous county in the state of Florida and growing. Growing by nearly 1,000 new residents each week. That makes us the fastest growing county in the state of Florida," Mayor Demings said.
According to Florida TaxWatch, an independent research company, Florida had the fourth largest undercount during the 2000 Census.
The organization's research shows if Florida is underrepresented this census period, it could cost the state more than $2.5 billion over a decade.
"One community at a time, one neighborhood at a time," Dominic Calabro, Florida TaxWatch CEO and President said about counting efforts. "They can feel comfortable and safe to complete the forms and make sure we capture everybody, particularly the homeless and the transient. Florida’s challenge is harder than most because we are not only a large state and fast growing, but it's a very transient state. We want to make sure that we count."
The 2020 Census officially begins April 1 next year. Data collected will help determine how $700 billion federal funds will be distributed to the state. These funds can assist schools, transportation projects and other funded programs.
"Our goal is to ensure that everyone eligible will be given the opportunity to complete their survey so our community will not be shortchanged over the next decade," Demings said.
The U.S. Census process began in 1970 and is conducted every 10 years.
Click here to learn more about Census 2020.