Business Mentor Program Celebrates Successful Year


Staff Report

On Thursday, March 8 the Milford Small Business Mentoring Program held their recognition event for the students and Milford businesses involved in this year’s program. Officials from the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), Mayor Ronnie Rogers, members of Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI) and the Delaware Mentoring Council were present to congratulate the nine Milford High School Students and five downtown Milford businesses involved.

Diane Laird, State Coordinator for Downtown Delaware, began the program by acknowledging the hard work and commitment demonstrated by all parties involved in the 2012 Milford Small Business Mentor Program. The program supports the entrepreneurial environment that the State of Delaware is building, as it engages young people while they are formulating their career plans and affords them the opportunity to explore their options as future entrepreneurs.

Each student involved in the program had a weekly opportunity to hear from guest speakers on issues such as recognizing the entrepreneurial urge, creating a business plan, finding the market niche and marketing opportunities. After each speaker session the small business students attended a shadowing session at a downtown Milford business and had the chance to ask local entrepreneurs about their business and how small business ownership works on a daily basis.

“This program is an enormous opportunity for the downtown,” stated Ms. Laird. “Downtown is the heart of a community and we believe that engaging youth today builds a strong tomorrow for Milford’s historic downtown.”

Emcees for the evening were the two coordinators of the program Carly James and Bryan Shupe. Guests on Thursday evening had the opportunity to hear from speakers Bernice Whaley, Deputy Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, and Ken Anderson, Director of the DEDO’s Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support Unit. Each speaker spoke of the State of Delaware’s continued focus on youth mentoring and small business development.

The Small Business Mentor students and the local business mentors had a chance to share their experiences with the audience

“The most important thing that I learned in this program is that you can never give up,” commented mentee Durrell Frasier. “If you want to start your own business you have to be passionate about what you do and if you fail you need to pick yourself back up”

The nine students involved in this year’s Small Business Mentor Program received Certificates signed by Governor Jack Markell. The 2012 mentor students were Dalton Allen, Rachel Dobie, Durrell Frasier, Cynthia Gonzalez, Donqiue Hughes, Jose Natareno, Jennifer Ramirez, De’Ashia Richardson and Emily Simpson.

Downtown Milford businesses also received special recognition at Thursday’s event and were presented certificates signed by Governor Jack Markell. The 2012 downtown business mentors were Teri Carter, owner of EcoChic Boutique, Kevin Reading, owner of Abbott’s Grill, Sherry Shaffer, owner of Fur-Baby Boutique, Bryan Shupe, owner of Milford LIVE and Cortez Vann, manager of The Georgia House.

The Delaware Economic Development Office and Downtown Milford Inc. are looking forward to continuing their partnership next year with a new class of Small Business students from Milford High School. The program is expected to expand in 2013 in order to include several more downtown Milford businesses.