The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford held a Business Forum on Tuesday, February 19 with the purpose of gathering the thoughts of local businesses owners on the challenges they face in Milford. Fifty-four businesses representing various sectors of the Milford economy including small business, healthcare services, real estate, banking and education, were present at the meeting which was held at the Milford Senior Center.
Mike Kazala, President of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford and CEO of Delmarva Broadcasting, welcomed business owners to the event and explained that the purpose of the event was to identify a top ten list of ideas that are critical to creating opportunities in Milford for businesses. Each business representative was given a chance to voice their opinion in front of the group and vote on a list of ideas that they thought were most important.
Among the participants was Craig Crouch, CEO of Kent- Sussex Industries, an organization that provides employment to individuals with disabilities. The work that is provided for these individuals are from companies across Delmarva in varying sectors of the economy.
“I would like to see some higher education opportunities in Milford, such as University of Delaware or Delaware State.” commented Mr. Crouch. “These centers for education will provide qualified employees for businesses and also offer local businesses a place to train their current employees.” Mr. Crouch also mentioned pubic transportation as one of the areas he would like a focus to be placed on.
Director of Student Support for the Milford School District, Sylvia Henderson , commented that she would like to see more partnerships between Milford businesses and high school students develop. “It is challenging to keep our students in Milford after they graduate because they are not connected to the business community,” stated Dr. Henderson. “By providing the students with opportunities for internships they can experience local businesses and grow with them.”
Bayhealth Medical Center Administrator Michael Ashton stated that he wanted to see a focus on attracting professionals, such as physicians, to the Milford area. “I would like to increase our ability to attract new talent, new professionals to the town of Milford,” commented Ashton. “I hear from some of our employees that they live in Dover or at the beach to be ‘closer to the amenities.’ How can we make Milford more attractive to become more of a destination.”
After each representative gave their opinion of challenges to Milford businesses, the answers were added to a list that each individual had the opportunity to vote on. A top ten list was compiled and presented to the group from this list. The top three included education on electric rates and utilities policy, more entertainment attractions and better public transportation including taxis and buses. The top ten list will be submitted to the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford to discuss how each issue can be addressed and what action steps need to be taken moving forward.
“It was great to feel the energy and passion from so many people, and to hear their concerns about the future of economic development in the greater Milford area,” commented Jo Schmeiser, Director for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford. “We look forward to addressing the Top Ten List in a positive, progressive manner.”