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2010 Census road tour begins

The U.S. Census Bureau, along with the North Carolina state, Charlotte Mecklenburg and area Complete Count Committees, have a message for the people of North Carolina: Be counted.

With the 2010 Census taking place this spring, that message is hitting the road with a Portrait of America tour kick-off in Charlotte on Monday, January 4, in Center City at Trade and Tryon streets, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

State and local governments, as well as community-based organizations have established complete count committees to promote the 2010 Census and urge participation. In addition to the N.C. Complete Count Committee and the Charlotte Mecklenburg committee, 160 complete count committees are operating in the state.

The regional road tour also will visit locations across Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The Charlotte Regional Census Center supports 2010 Census operations in these states, as well as North Carolina.

A national census road tour will simultaneously crisscross America. The national road tour bus will exhibit in Chapel Hill on January 16 during the UNC vs. Georgia Tech basketball game.

The Charlotte event will launch a five-state road tour with the theme Portrait of America, designed to inform people about the importance of the census and urge them to be included in the Portrait of America that the 2010 Census will create by filling out their census questionnaires.

The tour features a colorfully wrapped Sprinter van with a 12-foot trailer allowing an onsite, hands-on, and online experience. Tour stops, as with the kick-off event in Charlotte, will showcase local talent to tell people about the census and urge participation.

Census questionnaires will be mailed or delivered to about 130 million households across America in mid-March. People are asked to return their completed 10-question census forms in March and April.

Census takers sworn to confidentiality will visit households beginning in early May to collect unreturned questionnaires. April 1 is Census Day, the reference date for census information.

The road tour takes the census message to the people where they live, work and frequent, said David C. Belton, tour producer for the Charlotte Regional Census Center. We want to tell people how important it is to answer the census. Along the way, well have a lot of fun.

Belton said most tour stops are planned for communities where historically hard to count populations live, visit or work. These populations include recent immigrants, minorities, college students living off-campus and rural residents.

The census road tour will make neighborhood whistle stops and set up at public events in North Carolina locations. The road tour will be in Charlotte&bsp; February 25 to 27 and in Asheville and Hendersonville on March 13. On Census Day, April 1, the road tour returns to Charlotte.

Census counts are used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, the shape of legislative and local government districts, and how more than $400 billion in federal funds is distributed annually to communities across the country.

For information about the 2010 Census, go to www.2010census.gov.