WELCOME TO FORT BEND

The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Newcomer Relocation Guide is the premier resource for information about the communities around the county.  Important contact information, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses for a variety of agencies, businesses, and services are listed throughout this guide.

Helpful on-line links for housing, neighborhood resources, financing and mortgage information, education, health care utilities, and more can be accessed at www.HoustonNewcomerGuides.com.

Fort Bend County is one of the most beautiful parts of Texas with many wonderful communities situated on the rolling prairie and nestled into the banks of the Brazos River. Almost 600,000 people from diverse ethnic back-grounds reside within the 879-square mile area.

In the 1820s, Stephen F. Austin brought settlers to claim giant parcels of fertile land and hardy immigrants rushed to stake their claims in the region. The first colonists were known as the “Old Three Hundred.” At one time, Fort Bend was known as “Fort Settlement,” an encampment established in 1822 at a bend in the Brazos River.

The Karankawa Indians inhabited land adjoining the new colonial settlements resulting in a few minor skirmishes with the first settlers. As the colonies grew and more settlers arrived, the Karankawas moved out of the area.  By the 1850s, most of the tribe had migrated to the south and into Mexico.

In 1837 the town of Richmond was incorporated, and soon became a thriving trade center for regional agricultural products. A rail line was constructed in the 1850s for Richmond to the Port of Galveston to transport the county’s goods.

Sugar cane plantations were established throughout the region. Soon, a sugar mill was built to process the crops, and 53-years later, a sugar refinery was built on the same site.  In 1905, the Imperial Sugar Company was formed, and the City of Sugar Land grew around the plant and rail yard.

Following the Civil War, new settlers migrated to fort bend County to found family farms and ranches. The new town of Missouri City, established in 1883, was named after the first railroad in Texas that ran 20 miles from Missouri City to Harrisburg, now a part of Houston’s east side. The original acreage along the rail line was promoted in St. Louis, Missouri, thus, the name “Missouri City.”

Richmond, the county seat of Fort bend, was named after Richmond, England, and was the first town incorporated in the Republic of Texas. By the late 1850s, Richmond was a prosperous shipping center largely due to the railroads. The handsome county courthouse built in 1908 sits in the middle of the town square, and with its much-admired silver dome, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Rosenberg came about in 1880 when Richmond refused to give the railroads access thought the city. Thus, the tracks were laid three miles to the south and the town began to grow around the depot. The population steadily increased as Czechs, Germans, and Polish settlers moved to the small town, and eventually, Rosenberg melded into Richmond.

William Stafford settled Stafford’s Point, later shortened to “Stafford,” in 1822 and built a horse-powered cotton gin to process crops. In 1836 Santa Anna and his troops camped there on their way to San Jacinto and destroyed the town when they departed. Stafford quickly rebounded and the town’s resilience is evident in their thriving pro-business climate today.

Katy began developing around 1872, and was first know as “Cane Island,” once a major producer of sugar cane. The area is now better known for its rice crops and its natural gas fields.  Katy’s close western neighbor, Fulshear, was established in 1890 along a rail line that ran through the Fulshear Plantation.

In 1919, oil was discovered with a gusher at Blue Ridge Oil Field, and new drilling spread throughout the county during the 1920s.  Production continues there today, and the county has produced more than 450 million barrels of oil.

By the late 1950s, Houston was fast emerging as one of America’s super-cities, dominant in the petroleum industry and destined to become the aerospace capital of the world. A new wave of settlers flocked to Fort Bend in the 1970s as a result in Houston’s growth.  Master-planned communities were developed to fulfill the needs of families desiring a serene suburban setting with affordable homes.

Spacious new houses on oversize lots proved to be extremely popular.  Many preferred neighborhoods were built along the Brazos River and its tributaries while large expanses of farms and ranches have been developed into stylish, upscale, commercial centers.  These very appealing new communities across the area maintain the county’s rich heritage while residents enjoy an exceptional 20th century lifestyle.

Fort Bend County is linked to Houston by U.S. Highway 59 and Interstate 10. Both highways connect Richmond-Rosenberg, Sugar Land, Katy, and Houston.  HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes along the main arteries help traffic move smoothly through the central areas of fort bend and into Harris County.  Most recently, the Westpark Toll Road, the Fort Bend Parkway, and the Grand Parkway have improved mobility for residents throughout the region.

METRO, also known as the Metropolitan transit Authority of Harris County provides public transportation with a variety of bus routes, light rail, Park and Ride facilities, and vanpooling assistance.  HOV lanes along the major thoroughfares are designed to take residents of Fort Bend to downtown Houston, business districts, the Texas Medical Center, and major shopping centers. Metro serves an estimated 125 million passengers per year, and specially equipped buses are available for the disabled passengers.

Fort Bend County, in conjunction with Fort Bend Express, currently offers shared ride bus services to the citizens of Fort Bend County.  The scheduled ride transportation service provides trips within Fort Bend County.

The Fort Bend County area has a pro-business climate, which promotes opportunity for major corporations, growing companies, and entrepreneurs.  Some of the many benefits for employers and residents include real estate priced below the national average, low-cost utilities, a young and educated workforce, competitive wages, and no personal or state income tax.  Several large business districts are located in Fort Bend County and Southwest Houston.

U.S. Highway 59 is an ideal location for commercial development.  Major corporations have chosen to build their headquarters along this route because of its accessibility to Metropolitan Houston to the north and Richmond-Rosenberg to the South.  Other business districts are clustered along U.S. Highway 90 and State Highway 6.  Sugar Land’s First Colony is a booming area for retailers and businesses, replete with a luxury hotel, exclusive shops, and gourmet dining.  Town Center is another upscale commercial center with great restaurants and exclusive shops.  The City of Sugar Land’s City Hall is at the heart of Town Center.  There are a variety of other outstanding shopping opportunities for Fort Bend County residents.  Fountains on the Lake and Williams Trace Shopping Center are favorite destinations for Stafford and Sugar Land residents while the Katy Mills Outlet Center draws crowds from across the state.

The Richmond-Rosenberg business district is lined with restored office buildings where small businesses flourish alongside the Fort Bend County Courthouse.  The Rosenberg Antique District has over 20 quaint shops filled with treasures from yesteryear.

The more recently built Grand Parkway commercial centers blend tastefully with the greenbelts that link them to the residential areas.  La Centerra is a mixed-use development that combines the elements of urban living with a relaxed suburban lifestyle.

Housing options in Fort Bend County are endless.  New homes by quality builders in wonderful neighborhoods, resale homes in traditional subdivisions, excellent master-planned communities, and beautiful estates surrounded by acreage are found throughout the county, Townhouses, apartments, and retail properties are also available.  Waterfront properties inhabited by permanent residents along with vacation homes line the banks of the Brazos River, San Bernard River, Oyster Creek, and other small streams and lakes.  Fort Bend County also has a number of popular golfing communities where residents can enjoy the greens almost year-round.

Home prices range from the mid-$50,000s for smaller, resale homes while new houses start in the low $100,000s.  Luxury homes range upwards into the millions.  Rental homes lease for about $1,000 per month and up while apartment rent generally begins at $600 per month.

Great public parks are located throughout the county with the most famous being Brazos Bend State Park; the George Observatory and the Fort Bend Challenger Center are located there.  The Fort Bend Museum and the George Ranch Historical Park give the public a historical perspective of the area.  The county’s western heritage is celebrated each year at the Fort Bend county fair and Livestock show held at the fair ground; other events are held there throughout the year.  The lakes and rivers have fine fishing, and recreational facilities for camping, boating, water skiing, and bird watching.  Residents can also partake in the world-class performances and events in Houston, only a short drive away.

Places of worship representing many faiths are found throughout Fort Bend County.

Eight independent school districts and a number of well-respected private schools from which to choose serve the 3educational needs of the children from pre-kindergarten through high school.  Many of the schools are rated as “Exemplary,” the highest rating awarded to a school by the Texas Education agency.  Wharton County Junior College, the University of Houston System at Sugar Land, the University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, Houston Community College, and Texas State Technical College are in convenient locations across Fort Bend County, and Houston has many outstanding colleges and universities, too.

Much has changed from the time when sleepy farm-to-market roads traversed the county.  Because of the rapid population growth, the construction boom, commercial activity, and the development of major highways, Fort bend offers big city opportunities and amenities while remaining a serene retreat in a rural setting.

Wherever you decide to make your home in Fort Bend County, you are certain to find a neighborhood that meets your needs, suits your lifestyle, and fits your budget.

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