DONALDSONVILLE — Volunteers working with a state program to prepare the city for economic development are making strides in addressing Donaldsonville’s urgent needs, the project’s manager said.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of things, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Robyn Penn Delaney told the City Council.
Delaney, along with the Donaldsonville project’s committee members, this week presented their strategic plan to the council, along with a vision statement titled, “Donaldsonville — A Community with a Past and a Plan for the Future.”
The plan sets short- and long-term goals for strategies in marketing and communication, economic development, community facilities, education and work force, quality of life and government services and organizations.
One issue the committee is working to address is school truancy, Delaney said.
The group’s education subcommittee has worked with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Ascension Parish School Board and a local judge to improve attendance at public schools.
The committee is looking to rebrand the city visually, Delaney said, including development of a new official logo.
“We want to make the city more visible on billboards, letterheads and more,” she said. “This will help get the word out that Donaldsonville is moving forward.”
The city’s website, Delaney said, needs to be revised because it is an important portal into the city for possible new businesses and residents as well as the city’s current residents.
“It needs a lot of updating,” she said. “We want to make it more user-friendly and upload a lot of the city forms. That way, when people want to come and start businesses, they can access the forms from wherever they are, fill them out and bring them to City Hall.”
The city is working with the Donaldsonville Chamber of Commerce to improve the website through a program that would allow access to more municipal services online, Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. said.
By early 2013, Delaney said, the committee wants to have overgrown vegetation cleared from the banks of Bayou Lafourche and the bank of the Mississippi River in the city.
“We have a beautiful bayou out there, and the banks are overgrown with weeds right now,” she said, adding that the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office have agreed to assist in clearing the overgrowth.
Delaney said that high Mississippi River levels last year brought many sightseers to the city’s recently renovated waterfront.
“We have someone working to get a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, possibly at no cost to the city, to keep the grass and weeds trimmed there,” she said. “We want to accentuate the river as well as the levee.”
Delaney stressed the importance of making the most of the city’s relationship with the Ascension Economic Development Corp.
“We have a lot of businesses that are interested in coming into town, and we know that we don’t have the money available that we should to help them,” she said. “AEDC said they would be happy to assist us with a lot of economic-development projects at a reasonable cost or, in some cases, at no cost. We just have to ask.”
The city budgets $7 million per year to Donaldsonville’s economic development committee.
Delaney said while the group is grateful for the funding, it needs more dollars to put toward planned projects.
Delaney said she would bring the group’s current budget before the council next month, so that council members may determine whether additional funding is possible.
City residents, government officials and business leaders making up the development committee are working in conjunction with the state’s Louisiana Development Ready Communities program.
The state development program providing guidance to Delaney’s committee is designed to encourage and support communities in becoming development-ready, competitive and “open for business” by setting up community and economic development plans, according to Louisiana Economic Development’s website.
The program offers benefits such as developing an understanding of community needs and issues, helping prepare road maps to address community needs and measure accomplishments, and customizing training and data availability.