Donna Economic Development Strategy Adopted

The Donna City Council and Economic Development board adopted the economic development strategy formed with support from Advent GX. The Advent GX Strategy Deployment Process (ASD) engaged various stakeholder groups over the course of the Phase 1 Strategy Development project in order to define community priorities and identify best developmental opportunities.

The process results in a set of prioritized projects or functions of the overall strategy, as well as a project implementation timeline and budget. The top five community priorities as defined through the strategy are:

  • Commercial Traffic on the Bridge
  • Attract New Businesses
  • Nature Tourism
  • Downtown Revitalization
  • Business Incubation

To review specific approaches, timeline and project budget, click below to download the full public report.



Community Workshop Provides Insight into Citizens’ Priorities

On September 8, 2012, 100 members of the community participated in a community workshop, providing insight into the interests and concerns of Donna citizens. The information gathered is helping to shape the community and economic development plan.

The Process

Advent GX facilitated the workshop using Nominal Group Technique to capture the concerns of local citizens and prioritize those in a democratic fashion.

Individually, members of the community responded to the following question.

“What are the top two needs for most important concerns that must be addressed in order for you (your business or organization) to prosper the most in the next 2-5 years?”

Advent GX posed the question in both English and Spanish. In addition, we were able to engage youth in the workshop and capture the input of these younger members of the community. Once individual members posed their answers, the individuals used dots to vote for the items most important to them. In the end, the community identified priorities that will be used to guide the planning process going forward.

The Results

Following is a table of the compiled results from the workshop (please note that the Youth participants are a sub set of the English speaking group and they reflect 11% of the full group - English and Spanish speakers comprise the full data set so they add up to 100%).

Next Steps

Next, Advent GX will facilitate a smaller visioning workshop informed by the results of the community workshop and involving subject matter experts from outside the community who will lend their expertise to the planning process. The next workshop is scheduled for September 22.

Local Students Promote Workshop. Community Responds!

Advent GX Interns and local volunteers hit the streets of Donna earlier this week to encourage community members to participate in the community workshop. The community heeded the call, with more than 100 local citizens sharing their ideas for what will help Donna grow in the next 3-5 years.

High school students from Donna encourage citizens to participate in a workshop to plan for the city’s future.

Using the Nominal Group Technique, Advent GX facilitators used a two-hour workshop to capture and prioritize community needs. Participants were asked to respond to one simple question.

“What are the top two needs or most important concerns that must be addressed in order for you (your business or organization) to prosper the most in the next 2-5 years?”

Gathered in the Simon Sauceda Performing Arts Complex, participants used note pads, and stickers to capture, post and prioritized responses. The turnout at the events was most encouraging, letting local leadership and Advent GX know that the citizens of Donna is ready to participate in building the future.

More than 100 citizens heeded the call to contribute their ideas to the plans for the future of Donna.

Next, Advent GX will process all of the input and prepare for the next workshop that will focus on strategies for achieving some of the objectives identified during the initial workshop and through research into best opportunities for the community.

Any Donna citizens who were unable to participate in the workshop can still share their ideas through our online feedback form. To read local news coverage about the workshop, visit the article in The Monitor.

Donna Leadership Meets with USDA Under Secretary

City of Donna leaders, including Mayor David Simmons and City Councilwoman Sonia Gallegos, together with Advent GX Managing Partner JD Salinas III, hosted a meeting with Judith A. Canales, acting Deputy Under Secretary for US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, and USDA Regional Representative Roel Gomez. This week’s meeting followed a briefing with USDA State Director Paco Valentin who facilitated the meeting with Canales.

Advent GX Managing Partner JD Salinas III met with Donna leaders and USDA Under Secretary Judith Canales to discuss the city’s development plans.

These meetings provided the opportunity for city leaders and Advent GX to brief Ms. Canales on the recent activity in Donna and the planned process already underway to move the city into a better economic position. The Under Secretary graciously offered advice to the group and shared ideas on how Donna might save money and compete for future funding support for specific projects.

Some of the topics of discussion included improving the potential for heritage tourism, using the local Donna history to enhance economic development, and providing funding for infrastructure.  Mayor Simmons expressed his thoughts on trying to obtain commercial traffic on the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge but said that he wants to take a comprehensive approach to generating economic activity in the City of Donna.

Advent GX will continue to facilitate briefing sessions with state and local entities as part of an ongoing effort to update stakeholders on the progression of Donna.

Donna, TX Top 10

10. Plenty of land available for growth.

9. HEB makes downtown a vibrant place to be.

8. Nice park right in the middle of downtown.

7. Get there faster on the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge.

6. Quality manufacturing operations ripe for expansion.

5. Located in the Heart of the Rio Grande Valley.

4. Cowboy up! Chisolm Trail stars here.

3. Birds. Lots of pretty birds.

2. Leadership with sleeves rolled up, ready to work.

1. Donna is open for business! Planning and working for a prosperous future.

We’re listening closely. Will you be heard?

The early phases of any planning project are all about gaining understanding…of the community, its citizens, its history, culture and, of course, the all important “best developmental opportunities.” We achieve an understanding through research. Some of our research is rather bookish. We pour over prior planning documents, reviewing previous findings and recommendations and note what’s been accomplished and what remains to be achieved (assuming priorities are unchanged). We read up on history, regional news and business trends.

But not all research is so academic. As noted in a prior post, we like to get out about town, explore, and eat where the locals eat. It’s fun. But perhaps the most enjoyable research into the heart and soul of a community comes through our workshops. Community engagement in the planning process is essential. Without it, the plan doesn’t belong to the community at all. It could be any town’s plan. But we are not working in Donna, TX to create a plan for any town. We’re working in Donna, TX to create Donna’s plan for growing and improving life in Donna.

So we need community participation. Over the next few weeks, JD Salinas and other members of the Advent GX team will be reaching out to the citizen’s of Donna and asking for input. We’re going to have a community workshop and everyone’s invited. Please come! Share your ideas, voice your vision and dare to dream.

If you cannot make the workshop, find another way to share your thoughts. We’ve created an input form on this web site. Use the community input form or just reach out and contact us. We’re listening.


Advent GX Site Visit Featured in The Monitor

We are grateful to the Monitor for helping get the word out about the Donna Economic Development Initiative. The Strategy Deployment process is just getting underway. We are learning a lot and already seeing great opportunities in Donna.

Read the Monitor article, “New development consultants scope out Donna.”


Visit Uncovers Great Opportunities

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.