The Donaldsonville Downtown Development District held a wrap-up meeting Thursday, June 30 at the Ascension Parish Library to discuss ideas presented during the previous five meetings held across the city's districts.
The DDD's Lee Melancon conducted the presentation on economic revitalization.
"Economic revitalization does not happen with a commission, a person, a city council, or a mayor. It happens with everyone," Melancon said.
What sets Donaldsonville apart from other places? People want to get involved.
Melancon recalled how downtown Baton Rouge came back. It took one hotel project to get the ball rolling.
Donaldsonville's Main Street Program is state and national certified. The historic district is in the top three in the state for size and age. Donaldsonville has access to the Mississippi River and infrastructure to grow.
"People say this all the time: 'I don't see anything happening in the city,'" Melancon said.
Visitors, on the other hand, see things that longtime residents don't tend to notice.
He pointed out that Trip Advisor has many positive reviews of the city from international visitors.
Changes are currently happening. Crescent Park is undergoing a complete renovation. The Riverfront levee project is extending the walking path. And chain restaurant Taco Bell is under construction, despite the city's population being smaller than usual for the company to consider.
Melancon said both public and private interests are bringing positive change to the city.
He pointed to the Hambrick family, who invested private money into saving the Netter Building and converting it into a hotel and lounge.
Also, Triple M Bridal and Limousine has invested in bringing back the former Rossie's store along Railroad Avenue.
A new marketing idea is to hold weddings in Louisiana Square in front of the Courthouse.
Also, the River Road African American Museum has had a complete renovation.
Last week, 21 journalists from around the world toured Donaldsonville, Melancon said. They decided to get off the bus and walk the city.
"They couldn't stop taking pictures," Melancon said, referring to the difficult time he had rounding up everyone.
To view a video clip of the meeting, see: https://www.facebook.com/tortorich/videos/10105905493261195/.