Melancon gave statistics and measurements including new business startups, new grant opportunities, numbers of tourists who visited the community, economic development successes, education achievement rate achievements, as well as a number of new events and activities that were launched in the city for 2017.

On Saturday, January 20, leaders gathered to review successes achieved from 2017 and had discussions on how to continue the progress for 2018. The program was opened by Mayor Leroy J. Sullivan, Jr. and then turned over to Lee Melancon, Director of Community and Economic Development. Leaders from around the community participated in the morning session, including members of the Donaldsonville City Council, area commissioners, business and civic leaders as well as members of the community.

The session opened with a brief review of the milestones reached in 2017. Melancon gave statistics and measurements including new business startups, new grant opportunities, numbers of tourists who visited the community, economic development successes, education achievement rate achievements, as well as a number of new events and activities that were launched in the city for 2017. During the facilitation, Melancon mentioned some of the highlights of the Community Revitalization Plan written in the beginning of 2017, including major areas of development such as education, healthcare and wellness, housing, transportation, workforce development, business recruitment and retention, recreation, tourism, crime, and emergency preparedness.

The group in attendance broke up into a number of small thought leader sessions in order to discuss continuing growth. In specific, focus was dedicated to improvements in housing, economic development through tourism and new business recruitment and retention, blight elimination, historic district revitalization, and healthcare and wellness. After each thought leader breakout session, presentations were made to discuss opportunities for future growth. A few of the needs included income sensitive housing for retirees, planned retirement and assisted living communities, job growth, planned business expansion and recruitment, elimination of blight, communication strategies to better reach the community, and healthcare service improvements. Strategy formation will begin immediately to accomplish these goals.

The new step is for committee volunteers to set ongoing meetings to gain community input and work with stakeholders to execute on the plans necessary to accomplish the strategies. Committees will now plan to meet with community, civic, and business organizations as well as local churches to continue to gain community input prior to plans being executed. The Mayor as well as the Council leadership emphasized the importance of gaining community buy-in as well as ongoing communication to keep the community informed of upcoming progress.

To get involved on any committee or to give feedback, contact the Mayor’s office of Community and Economic Development by visiting City Hall or by calling 225-473-4247 ext. 10 or call Lee Melancon at 225-445-1383 or email lee@visitdonaldsonville.org.

Contributed by Donaldsonville Downtown Development District