Sunday, November 22, 2009

Community Banks and the 2010 Census

Recently I was asked by the representative of a local elected official to participate in a grass roots effort directed at promoting awareness and participation in the upcoming 2010 U.S. Census. The Committee that was formed includes members of East Los Angeles' most influential...well...influencers. The committee name...the East Los Angeles Complete Count Committee.

After reviewing the data presented to me by members of the Committee, joining the group was a no brainer. While I always knew there was an important use for the Census data other than determining low- and moderate-income communities for Community Reinvestment Act purposes (the CRA is a bank law that encourages lending, investment and services in certain areas based on Census data), I never realized how important the Census process was for the communities served by the Bank.

The U.S. government utilizes census information relative to population density, levels of income, age, and other factors to determine how to allocate funds across the Country. Studies have found that Los Angeles County - particularly those areas (census tracts) that are heavily Latino-based, lose federal investment monies due to undercounts of residents that take place during the census counting process.

The reasons for the undercounts are many, ranging from lack of understanding to fear (many Latino immigrants, whether documented or not, are skeptical of government officials coming to their doors due to events common in their countries of origin).

East Los Angeles has historically been considered a "hard-to-count" community. What residents need to understand is that the census figures determine how nearly $400 billion in federal funds are disbursed each year.

As the only community bank headquartered in East Los Angeles, it is our responsibility to support efforts that ensure that the local community gets its fair share of federal investment. Such investments include monies related to education, infrastructure, social services and other critical projects.

So, over the course of the past couple weeks the East Los Angeles Complete Count Committee has worked frantically to set up a December 12, 2009, press conference and Latino Census Summit. The event is aimed at reaching out to hard-to-count populations in Los Angeles County. The event will feature television and radio personalities, Latino advocates, and local elected officials. Following the press conference the East Los Angeles Complete Count Committee will host the first annual Latino Census Summit where expert panelists will deliver important information regarding the 2010 census.

As a local corporate citizen it is in our best interest to maximize investment dollars in our community. Investments boost the standard of living of our customers, attract additional investments into the community and generate the need for financial products and services provided by community banks.


  1. It is not uncommon to see a local community Bank President on the front page of the local newspaper.
    It is NOT commom to see a Bank President, contributing and providing hands-on coordination and helping in his commmunity grass-roots campaigns, sponsoring events in the bank and helping lead a community campaign to re-energize the local businesses and population.
    Drawing dollars into the community is done through business successes, through providing safe neighborhoods, and programs such as the census count (For Federal and State dollars from taxes).
    Thank you Mr. Torres,
    Bruce Ferguson

  2. Thanks Bruce.

    As a community bank, the stronger the community, the more opportunity for our residents and the Bank. The Bank cannot thrive unless our community thrives. We need to do our part to create opportunities for success...even if it does not always involve banking. This is why I have spent my career in community banks. The ability to have an impact in the community.

    It is a juggling act that needs to be constantly balanced. We are a for-profit organization that has shareholders to satisfy. However, at the end of the day my guide is our mission statement which guides our actions.

    Thanks for the comments. And thanks for following us.

    Jesse Torres