DMI Plans Business Accelerator, Public Art Project

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37072_10152012000711564_666003467_nBy Lee Nelson, Downtown Milford Inc (DMI) Executive Director

Downtown is the heart of Milford. DMI’s mission is to promote, support and encourage local businesses, quality of place and vibrancy in the 30 block downtown area within the context of historic preservation. DMI’s goal is to maintain and enhance a healthy downtown to benefit the whole town.

Cooperation is key: the DMI, its volunteers, the city, local businesses and groups partnering to help Milford grow brings us together. We hope to build an even larger volunteer base to avoid burn-out. Volunteers are the most valuable resource we have – their dedication, hard work and support are essential to our dreams becoming reality. Volunteers help us build partnerships with other organizations in town and together we will all thrive.

The two most important goals for the year are interlinked. The USDA grant to bring specialized consulting to Milford and the Delaware Division of the Arts and Lions Club grants to enable us to continue the beautification of downtown with a public art project. Helping and promoting local businesses brings more visitors downtown. Once downtown, the public art project makes downtown more attractive and interesting.

Rural Business Accelerator (RBA) Program: Utilizing a USDA grant, the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) and business coach and consultant, John Childress, will train a few selected downtown Milford businesses (“training the trainer”) in how to provide free and ongoing business consultancy to other downtown businesses. This will grow into a local business consulting program which in turn will help downtown grow and encourage new businesses to open. For complete program information visit our website: downtownmilford.org – Tab “RBA”

“Art on the Riverwalk Tour”(ART) Project: A public art project DMI is partnering with the Mispillion Art League, Milford Parks & Recreation Dept and Milford High School on an exciting 3-year project partially funded by the Delaware Division of the Arts and the Milford Lions Club. About ART: 4-foot “sculptures” of the classic motor yacht Augusta built by Vineyard Boat Yard in 1927 will be displayed permanently along the Mispillion Riverwalk and throughout downtown over the next 3 years, 18 in all with 6 per year being the goal. In 2009, the derelict “Augusta” was purchased by present owners of the yard, Sudler and Joan Lofland and restored to its former glory. All artists living/working in Kent and Sussex Counties are invited to apply following the guidelines and timetable. Each paid artist awarded a sculpture to decorate/paint will work with High School students as a mentor throughout the process.

Our goals for 2013 include helping existing businesses thrive with cooperative advertising, specialized consulting and events focused on bringing residents and visitors downtown. We also want to actively partner with local businesses, organizations and the city to ensure local commitment and shared achievement in making Milford a great place to live, work, play and shop. We plan to achieve all these goals in a cost effective way by relying on volunteers and sponsors. For more information visit downtownmilford.org.