Round Rock mayor reflects on economic development, COVID-19 in State of the City address

Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan gave his annual State of the City address at the Kalahari Convention Center on Oct. 19. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan gave his annual State of the City address at the Kalahari Convention Center on Oct. 19. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)

Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan gave his annual State of the City address at the Kalahari Convention Center on Oct. 19. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)

Economic development, transportation needs and COVID-19 all featured as prominent topics during Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan's State of the City address.

Morgan's last address was in February 2020, and the Oct. 19 address came as part of the Round Rock Chamber's monthly Power Lunch.

Regarding economic development, Morgan mentioned the Switch Data Center coming soon near the Dell Technologies global headquarters, and he fittingly pointed to Kalahari Resorts Texas, which hosted his address and opened in November 2020.

"When you do economic development deals, you want to make sure you have good partnerships," Morgan said. "During this time, Kalahari could have just stopped everything. But they continued. They built on time and under budget. As we have seen, they're exceeding their revenues—that's all performance-based development."

Morgan said the future of Kalahari in Round Rock is bright, with remaining land to develop the draw of its amenities to bring people in from out of town.


"When people are coming to Kalahari, they're spending their money, and then they're leaving and going home," Morgan said. "I'm ecstatic, and they have 150 acres left to develop. I'm excited to see what that future holds. But I think the partnership will continue, and you're going to be good partners for years."

Transportation was another key topic, in particular the projects in progress on RM 620 and University Boulevard.

In the future, Gattis School Road and Red Bud Lane will also see similar expansions, Morgan said.

"I know University is a nightmare right now," Morgan said. "But I just want you to know that we issued bonds to do work on university in 2013. And we just now were able to start to get right of way [acquisitions for the project]. Right of way is hard to get. It's very expensive. Things get worse before they get better. So all I ask is be patient."

With respect to public safety, Morgan pointed out the Round Rock Police Department has 10 new positions, and the Round Rock Fire Department has 14 new positions to address mental health-related calls. In fiscal year 2021-22, Morgan noted $65 million of the city's $122 million general fund has been dedicated to funding the two departments.

When asked about the cost of living, Morgan said the types of housing offered—from townhouses and apartments to single-family detached homes on varying lot sizes—is part of the city's 2030 plan to meet the varying housing needs of people living in and moving to the Round Rock community.

Morgan also said "affordability" means different things to different people, and housing diversity coupled with continuing efforts to minimize the city's tax rate would meet those differing needs.

"Sometimes when you're defining affordability, what may be affordable for one person may not be affordable to another," Morgan said.

Regarding the February winter storm that plagued Texans statewide, Morgan said while Round Rock residents did not have to deal with a boil water notice, there were some issues with power suppliers such as Oncor not getting information out to their customers, and that needed to be dealt with.

"The biggest lesson ought to be that the grid wasn't prepared for a nuanced situation. There's no doubt that that's an issue," Morgan said.

Finally, in response to the impact of COVID-19 on local business, Morgan pointed to several local entities that in March 2020 helped create Round Rock Cares, a program that has been providing local businesses with funding during the pandemic.

"There were a lot of people involved in Round Rock Cares. It was not just me," Morgan said. "We had an initial seeding of money from the city, Dell, the chamber and the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation to get that started. The goal for Round Rock Cares was just to try to get them to the next paycheck to the next paycheck to keep the businesses open."
By Brooke Sjoberg
Brooke Sjoberg is the Round Rock reporter for the Round Rock and Pflugerville/Hutto editions of Community Impact Newspaper. She worked for The Gonzales Inquirer, The Daily Texan and The Daily Dot among other publications before coming to Community Impact. Brooke is from Seguin, TX and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. Her last name is pronounced Show-burg.


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