Sumter's Census Efforts in Final Stretch

Before you know it, the 2020 Census will be here to count the residents of Sumter County, South Carolina. And everyone else in the United States of America.

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our country has to conduct a population count every 10 years. The data that’s collected will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For us in Sumter County, each person counted equals about $1,500 in federal assistance through transportation and infrastructure investments, along with education upgrades and healthcare funding.

Much planning has gone on already, as initial meetings about the 2020 Census took place in the fall of 2018. Soon thereafter, a Complete Count Committee was formed, with Bonnie Disney and the Rev. James Blassingame serving as Committee Co-Chairs and Carolina Cruz serving as Hispanic Advisor.

A website -- -- has been established and provides all the information Sumter County residents might need to better understand Census 2020.

The CCC met on Dec. 10, 2019, to discuss plans for January 2020 and the timeline leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020.
Matthew Morse told the group about how the brunt of the media and marketing efforts will start rolling out next year. Rack cards will be distributed, as will T-shirts and stickers.

Various advertising campaigns are planned for January, he said, with both traditional media outlets and on social media.
Jason Stoddard said numerous civic organizations have been reached through presentations, and he got tremendous feedback at the Chamber’s Military Appreciation Picnic as well as during the Veterans Day parade and program. “The Veterans Day parade was huge,” he said. “We had really good engagement with folks.”

He plans on speaking next year to the Morris College Honors Program, he said.

Robin Mills of the Military Committee said Census banners will be placed on Shaw Air Force Base in areas of high visibility and foot traffic, and posters will be placed in common areas as well.

Jeanie Crotts of the Senior Services Committee said she’s spoken to several groups about the Census and plans to set up a refresher course for seniors on computers.

The upcoming Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce Retreat has seen the most robust registration period in the last 10 years, said Chris Hardy. Stoddard is slated to give a presentation about the Census. Hardy also said the Industrial Association has gotten involved, and he said it’s possible to tie-in the Rub ‘O the Green Golf Tournament in March with the Census to promote the count locally.

In rural areas of Sumter County, Selena Ruth Smith said she’s had success reaching folks at community centers, Bingo games and even found herself talking about the Census when people were gathered to make beef jerky. “Just talking to people and getting the Census drummed up,” she said.

At the end of the Dec. 10 meeting, Disney thanked Stoddard for all the work he’s done in promoting the upcoming Census.
“Without you, we wouldn’t be this far along,” she said. “And all of you contribute to this … And the success of the Sumter Census is because of you.”