Keri Schmidt and her staff at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce weathered the coronavirus pandemic, and even helped distribute more than $43.7 million in grants to 3,310 businesses, she said.
Now, the longtime president and CEO is being honored for the chamber’s efforts.
Schmidt’s fellow Texas chamber executives recently awarded her with the Arthur A. Roberts Award for Distinguished Service, meant to recognize her efforts during the pandemic, according to a news release.
Then, just a few days later, Fort Bend County Judge KP George named the veteran chamber executive to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, representing business in the county, he said.
“It was all such an honor,” Schmidt said of her recent recognitions.
George in selecting Schmidt said he chose her because of her knowledge of the diverse business community.
She also has training in management and hiring practices, he said.
Business conditions in Fort Bend County have much improved since the early days of the pandemic and the shutdowns, back in March 2020, Schmidt said. But there’s still work to do, with some businesses still struggling to find employees, she said.
From the beginning of the pandemic, chamber employees worked as essential employees to help businesses struggling as more people stayed home and stopped frequenting restaurants and retail shops, she said.
Fort Bend County also gave out more grants for small businesses than Harris County, which has a population more than four times bigger, according to Schmidt.
“It was a really good thing,” she said. “I’m proud of our collaboration with the county. Everyone came together.”
Fort Bend County leaders made the money available via three separate grants funded through federal relief money.
Chamber officials worked to make sure that underserved businesses, in particular, received some of the grant funding, Schmidt said.
“Keri embodies the spirit of service and commitment,” said Aaron Cox, executive director of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives, while giving her the award. “Through her efforts, the TCCE is a better organization and the chamber profession in Texas is stronger. Keri has helped elevate our profession and ensured that all of Texas continues to prosper.”
Schmidt also serves as the treasurer for the organization’s board of directors.
The award goes to just one chamber executive each year who goes above and beyond to assist the association’s mission, according to a news release.