Fort Bend County Judge KP George delivered a State of the County address on Oct. 14 at Safari Texas Ranch focusing on the county’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to develop the …
Fort Bend County Judge KP George delivered a State of the County address on Oct. 14 at Safari Texas Ranch focusing on the county’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to develop the county’s economy.
“The challenges we face are real, but so are the opportunities to overcome them and to grow as a community in the process,” George said in his speech.
During the presentation, which was hosted by the Fort Bend and Central Fort Bend chambers of commerce, George said most eligible county residents have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 with 85% of eligible residents having received at least one dose and 76% of residents being fully vaccinated. The county continues to provide free testing for the disease and is coordinating access to the vaccines which are also provided at no charge to those 12 and older. George said the county is still encouraging social distancing and masks.
“These are the things we must do to move our community forward, including reaching communities that have historically shown vaccine hesitancy,” George said.
George praised his fellow members of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court – commissioners Andy Meyers, Ken DeMerchant, Grady Prestage and Vincent Morales – for their efforts to help the county mitigate the impact of the pandemic on residents.
George said economic recovery from the pandemic remains a priority and building the future of the county’s economic foundation is important. As such, he said, the county now has one of the lowest tax rates in more than 15 years at $0.4383 per $100 of property value, down from about $0.66 15-20 years ago.
To assist residents hit by the pandemic, the county is using federal relief funds to provide programs to those living in Fort Bend County. Those programs include rent, mortgage and utility assistance for residents as well as grant and mentorship programs for small businesses. The We All Eat Texas program also provides access to free to-go meals from local restaurants for those facing food insecurity. Child care vouchers are available to help parents get back into the workforce and the Get Hired incentive program offers subsidies to local businesses that are having difficulty finding staff by providing funding for hiring bonuses to incentivize people to return to the workforce, George said.
The programs have used $75 million in funds set aside for small businesses to help 2,717 businesses with offerings of $46.1 million in grants as of Oct. 14, George said.
George said establishing better infrastructure throughout the county will help the county as it continues to grow. He highlighted the Texas Heritage Parkway’s recent opening, upcoming county facility improvements such as the Emergency Operations Center which is expected to open in March of 2022 and parks and library improvements throughout the county.
George’s administration and county commissioners have been working to attract technology firms to the county as well, George said. The court recently passed a proposal for a comprehensive broadband study to ensure high-speed internet is available to county residents and to identify challenges in drawing tech firms to Fort Bend as part of the county’s overall efforts to increase its involvement in the technology sector.
“For the past two years, we have been working to increase the concentration of small technology firms and small businesses. We have attracted THE Cannon, a hub for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses of all backgrounds connect to the resources they need to succeed,” George said.
Overall, George said, the county is working to build a better economic future for its residents and future residents.
“We are already doing great things to improve the lives of our families and our economy in ways that will benefit our children and grandchildren. I have full confidence that we are moving Fort Bend Forward and making Fort Bend County even a better place for our children and generations to come,” George said.
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