We often hear, “Why can’t we get a (insert name of chain restaurant, movie theatre, or national retail store) in Sallisaw or Sequoyah County?” One of the main factors that all businesses consider when choosing locations is population.
Many national chain businesses require a population of 10,000 or more before they will even consider looking at a town. According to the numbers recorded on the April 2010 Census, Sallisaw had 8,880 residents. Officials say this number is far below the actual number. Under reporting on the current Census could cause our area to miss out on future opportunities. Completing your 2020 Census is crucial to the economic future of Sequoyah County.
Counting everyone in the 2020 Census can help communities receive funding for health care, education, emergency services and more. Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions for communities nationwide.
Big chain businesses considering setting up shop in Sallisaw look at Census figures and several other factors before determining the suitability of adding a location here.
Sallisaw’s proximity to Interstate 40 gives it a leg up on wooing popular chains but having an adequate population is also crucial.
George Bormann, the economic director for the City of Sallisaw, said answering the Census is vital to the growth not only of the city but also the rest of Sequoyah County. Bormann said the current national response rate is at 60.1 percent, while the number of respondents in Oklahoma sits at 53.7 percent. Unfortunately, the response rate within Sequoyah County is hovering around 37.4 percent.
“We want every dollar, every opportunity to improve our little community,” Bormann said, and answering the Census is the only way to do it.
Only 52.5 percent of Sallisaw residents have responded, Bormann said, but the smaller towns in the county are lagging behind in their responses also. Vian’s response rate is only 15.3 percent; Marble City, 5.7 percent; Gans, 7.1 percent; Gore, 33.3 percent; Muldrow, 45.5 percent; and Roland, 49.2 percent.
Those figures are improving each week, Bormann said, and he expects the numbers to be higher since the deadline to respond was pushed back to Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Once Census figures are tabulated, businesses will be able to pinpoint where they want to open new locations. New businesses in the area mean more job opportunities for county residents.
Bormann said only 54.5 percent of Sequoyah County residents responded to the 2010 Census, which probably kept some business opportunities out of reach.
“We want to give Sallisaw and Sequoyah County the best possible future and answering the Census is the only way to do it,” Bormann said.
Some people express concerns over sharing their information on the Census form. The Census Bureau DOES NOT share your information with any other entity inluding the Internal Revenue Service, Tribal Services or the Department of Human Services.
Your 2020 Census response helps shape your future. If you have not yet responded online or by phone, you may receive a paper questionnaire so you can respond by mail. You are strongly encouraged to respond promptly. Even if you receive a paper questionnaire, you can still respond online at 2020census.gov.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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