El Paso County State of the Region address highlights achievements and challenges

Innovation and cooperation are among the reasons El Paso County is strong. That was the message given by county commission chairman Stan VanderWerf during his State of the Region address on Thursday.

Community leaders, businesses and government agencies need to work together, he said. 

“We use our economic and political power, both public and private, in cooperation to enhance our region, thus ensuring we have a great place to live, work and play.”

More than $100 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act helped drive a fast recovery from the pandemic, according to VanderWerf. He also noted that the county’s revenue streams continued to grow during the last two years and area industries are more robust than ever.

Connor Hibbs
El Paso County Commission Chair Stan VanderWerf

In a county where one in three people have some connection to the defense industry, VanderWerf said community leaders are working to keep Space Command in the region.

He also said the county is excelling in many areas from public safety to election integrity.

“You can rest assured we have proper elections here,” he said. “Let's work together to return to the more civil days where candidates were gracious in victory and defeat.”

But he also said there are challenges, especially in dealing with the fentanyl crisis. A report from the El Paso County coroner's office earlier this year said fentanyl deaths have been doubling annually over the last five years.

“'Just say no to drugs' is a more relevant statement today than it ever was,” VanderWerf said.