Fort Bend’s Global Initiatives


Beth Wolf, Fort Bend County Judge’s Office; Asuman Dayi, Managing Partner Telekurye; Giti Zarinkelk, President Zarinkelk Engineering Services; Grady Prestage, Fort Bend County Commissioner Precinct 2; Bob Hebert, Fort Bend County Judge; Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul; Tarik Celik, President Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce; Keri Schmidt, President Fort Bend Chamber; Fheryl Prestage, Executive Director Houston Community College and Chris Breaux, Fort Bend Global Initiative Vice Chair.

Beth Wolf, Fort Bend County Judge’s Office; Asuman Dayi, Managing Partner Telekurye; Giti Zarinkelk, President Zarinkelk Engineering Services; Grady Prestage, Fort Bend County Commissioner Precinct 2; Bob Hebert, Fort Bend County Judge; Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul; Tarik Celik, President Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce; Keri Schmidt, President Fort Bend Chamber; Fheryl Prestage, Executive Director Houston Community College and Chris Breaux, Fort Bend Global Initiative Vice Chair.

By Zeenat K. Mitha –

I am excited to introduce our readers to Fort Bend’s very own Global Initiatives, a non-profit organization that assists in raising the profile of Fort Bend County internationally. The goal of Global Initiatives is to work with communities overseas to provide opportunities for cultural, educational and business exchanges for Fort Bend County.

The initial efforts began in 2010 when Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert formed the Fort Bend County Friendship Committee. This was a group organized to strengthen relationships both within the community and internationally to foster business development. Considering China’s increasing economic strength, coupled with the significant participation of Chinese-American Friendship Committee members, the group chose to initially focus on areas of China with which to establish this business relationship. “The Friendship Committee is comprised of Fort Bend residents, as well as industry and government representatives,” said Allison Wen, Chairman of the Global Initiative.

Due to great prospects for Fort Bend, two trips thus far have been made to China. The first was in November 2011 to execute a Sister Community agreement with the Chancheng District of Foshan, China. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Judge Bob Hebert and Liu Donghau, CEO of the Chancheng District, to further facilitate communications and cooperation in areas of economics and trade, culture and sport, and environmental protection. Bob Hebert, John Lam, Michael Liu, Danny Nguyen, Howard Paul, Thomas Randle, Jason Sheng, Allison Wen and Jeffrey Wiley were part of the delegation from Fort Bend County. “The MOU provides for the exchange of views on issues of common interest, as well as the exploration of possible collaborative projects that will benefit both Fort Bend County and Foshan City,” said Judge Bob Hebert.

Foshan is a modern city located in the northern part of Hong Kong with a long history dating back to approximately 1,500 years and a current population of one million residents.

The second trip was also to Foshan in November 2012 for meetings with business and educational leaders and a Friendship Agreement was signed. Judge Bob Hebert, Michael Liu, Jason Sheng, Allison Wen and Jeffrey Wiley were part of the Fort Bend County delegation on the second trip. Fort Bend County has also hosted delegates, several business, educational and medical groups from Foshan over the last two years. A second MOU was signed between the two communities in Fort Bend last year.

A Global Initiatives delegation also made history in September 2013 when they traveled to Turkey and were joined by members of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce (FBCC). The FBCC signed agreements with the Ankara Chamber of Industry, the Adana Chamber of Commerce, the Kocaeli Chamber of Industry and the Kahramanmaras Chamber of Commerce. The purpose was to enhance mutual understanding and friendship and develop friendly cooperation and consultation on strengthening the communication in education and training, environmental protection, cultural exchange and other areas on which both parties have mutually beneficial interests. The delegation to Turkey included Jeffrey Blodgett, Chris Breaux, Jeffrey DiLeo, Bob Hebert, Fheryl Prestage, Grady Prestage, Keri Schmidt and Allison Wen.

The efforts to create Global Initiative arose out of a desire to gain major benefits from the diversity of the Fort Bend County population. The team felt confident that cultural and economic benefits will be rapidly forthcoming from each outreach and predicts that business and economic development benefits will also emerge over time. Since the focus is on cultural, economic and educational development rather than government services, no tax dollars are spent on any Global Initiative activities. Expenses not covered by the host country are paid for by Global Initiatives or by individual participants. The Chairman and board of directors of Global Initiatives have been successful in raising sufficient funding to keep activities at a high level.

The Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council was instrumental in getting Global Initiatives up and running and is prepared to work with any business prospects identified. With this assistance, Global Initiatives can focus on the international networking required for long-term success. Global Initiatives looks forward to many beneficial opportunities coming up that will promote Fort Bend County in the best way possible.