We are here for our first official visit to Donna now that we are engaged to develop the community’s economic development strategy. The people here in Donna have been very kind and hospitable. City staff are knowledgeable and have shared great insights into opportunities and challenges facing this Texas border town.
On these first visits to communities, we try to maintain our “tourist” profile so that we can experience the community the way any visitor would. We found plenty to do on Saturday, as the downtown was abuzz with community fundraisers by various youth organizations and the local American Legion Hall. We enjoyed great BBQ and were proud to support our veterans in Donna.
We also visited the Donna History Museum where we discovered plenty of opportunity for expansion and a beautiful outdoor courtyard. Our meal at Delia’s Taco House was great and we found everything we needed at the HEB on the square.
After reviewing previous planning documents and talking with city staff, we identified sites we needed to see so that set the stage for an adventurous weekend. We drove down to the bridge but not too far (I forgot my passport). The vibrant agricultural heritage was obvious as we drove past citrus groves and fields of cotton just beginning to bloom.
Donna Reservoir is a sizable asset just waiting to be developed but we understand remediation is required before it will be suitable for water sports or fishing. Still, there was no shortage of birds, providing a hint of the nature tourism potential.
The Donna Wetlands look like a nearer-term opportunity to put Donna on the map for nature tourism. An afternoon at the wetlands will provide lots of opportunity to see various species of birds. We saw quite a few during our brief visit.
Tourism is one opportunity and we’ll be seeking out enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in the community who are ready to start a new business but tourism is just the beginning. We were impressed by Donna’s manufacturing operations both in food production at the cannery and in recycling and manufacturing of wood products from molding to fine cabinets. There seems to be a solid base to build upon and we look forward to identifying the best ways to expand existing businesses and attract new ones.
We learned that Donna has a long heritage of manufacturing and in fact is home to the original Ro-tel tomatoes and diced green chilies . The name brand is no longer produced in Donna, but if you eat HEB’s Hill Country Fare tomatoes and diced green chilis, you’re eating great food produced right in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley in Donna, TX.
Yes, Donna has a lot to be proud of. Hard working entrepreneurs, land ready for development, natural assets, strong agricultural heritage and a very knowledgeable and dedicated city staff and council.