The Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) has announced that two Milford sites will be available as part of the statewide Project Pop-Up program. This will be the third year in a row that Downtown Milford Inc., a local organization aimed at economic development in the downtown area, and local landlords partner with DEDO in a small business incubator program. This year’s sites include 127 NW Front Street, the historic Tharp-Jewell House on the corner of NW Front and Church Streets, and 22 S Walnut St, between the Georgia House and EcoChic Boutique on Milford’s main road in downtown.
The goal of Project Pop-up is to offer business owners a limited-risk opportunity in an effort to stimulate economic activity in the town. The project brings together downtown organizations, the property owner and a potential tenant in an effort to turn vacant buildings into thriving businesses. Director of Downtown Milford Inc. Lee Nelson is looking forward to the continued partnership with DEDO on this project and judges the success of this program on the two past years where successful businesses were brought to the downtown area.
“Historically the businesses that have been a part of Project Pop-Up have been financially successful,” said Nelson. “It gives the opportunity for a new small business to succeed as they not only receive the first three months of rent free but they also receive professional training from DEDO on how to manage and control the business.”
In 2012 Jennifer White of Little Posies Photography participated in the inaugural program in Milford. A night nurse at Kent General Hospital Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Ms. White was able to embrace her passion for photography as she opened a storefront on SW Front Street. According to Mrs. White the business is still successful today as she is currently looking for a larger facility in downtown Milford to host her business. In 2013 Paige Deiner, owner of a home-based business Milford Massage, Wellness and Yoga, participated in the program opening her storefront on SW Front St. She has since expanded her services and moved her business into a larger location on NW Front Street.
Mr. Nelson states that although the program prefers retail facilities in downtown areas, any type of business, including non-profits, are eligible to apply for the program. “The focus is on retail business primarily since they will be part of the program during the holiday season; October, November and December,” stated Nelson. “We would like to see a business that helps to bring people into town and adds to the mix of what downtown Milford already has to offer. The more diversity we have in our retail in downtown the more people we will attract as they will compliment each other.”
Applications from business owners will be accepted by the Delaware Economic Development Office between July 21 and August 6. The final selection of the two Milford businesses will be completed by August 28. Applications for the program are available from Monday, July 21 through Wednesday, August 6, 2014, and more information on the application process can be found online at http://smu.dedo.delaware.gov/cgi-bin/mail.php?popup2014. Two qualified recipients will be chosen for each of the available locations in downtown Milford. A panel of representatives from DEDO, Downtown Delaware, and Downtown Milford Inc. will review the applications, select the qualified applicants and notify them in late August. Winners must participate in a one-on-one consultation with a business coach in September and a successful launch of the business must occur by October 1.
“This program will not only bring new businesses to downtown Milford but bring our economic development efforts to attention on a state level,” commented Nelson. “It is a part of our continued mission to collaborate with state and local entities to bring more business downtown.”