On Wednesday, July 16, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Milford held their third quarter luncheon at Mama Maria’s in Milford. Angela Dorey, President of CCGM, introduced Mayor Bryan Shupe, who was the guest speaker of the event, explaining that he was one of the youngest mayors in the state. Mr. Shupe spoke about economic development and his vision for the city.
“I have only been in office 60 days,” Mr. Shupe said. “Just last week, we approved a budget that I am pleased to say had no tax increases or utility cost increases. The new budget includes funding for a city planner with economic development experience and a two percent raise for city employees.” Mr. Shupe said that the city employees do a tremendous job of keeping the city operating smoothly, pointing out that during the brutal winter, it was city employees who kept the streets clear and the lights on.
Mr. Shupe also explained that the last part of the Riverwalk in downtown Milford was provided funding with the current budget. Infrastructure needs for Goat Island, such as a boardwalk, were funded so that the city could complete the project. In addition, Mr. Shupe said that the official opening of Goat Island would be held on September 6 at 9 AM.
Sudler and Joan Lofland, owners of the Vineyard Shipyard, have offered to sell the still-operational historic location to the city. Mr. Shupe said that he will be visiting the location with city, state and local officials on July 21 to determine the benefits of purchasing the shipyard, which is the last of seven that operated in the town during the 1800s.
“I feel this would greatly benefit the city and allow us to preserve an important part of Milford’s history,” Mr. Shupe said. “It would loop the Riverwalk, allowing resident and visitors to get a glimpse of an important part of our town’s legacy. It also puts focus on our need to preserve one of our most important assets, the Mispillion River.”
One of Mr. Shupe’s main focuses on the campaign trail was a need for economic development in the city. Not long after being elected, Mr. Shupe met with Alan Levin, the Secretary of Economic Development for the state to learn ways that the city could encourage businesses to come to the town. According to a recent article found on Delaware Online, Mr. Levin said that the lifeline of a business-friendly environment “starts at the ground level, in our many cities and towns.” Mr. Shupe said that he planned to meet with city, state, county and local economic development leaders on a monthly basis to develop programs designed to improve economic development in the city.
“One thing we are looking at is USDA Grant and Loan programs,” Mr. Shupe said. “These would be microloans of between $1,000 and $5,000 that would help small businesses expand in Milford. We are working with the USDA now, and hope to see as much as $300,000 coming into Milford in the form of these loans and grants. We also hope to partner with local financial institutions to assist those who either do not qualify for the USDA loans or need other alternatives for their business.”
Infrastructure in the city is another matter that could affect economic development, and Mr. Shupe explained that the city is working to improve the electric, water and sewer service throughout the town. He said that they were in the process of improving the Shawnee Acres pumping station and that there are many water projects in the works that will benefit both businesses and residents. In addition, two downtown streets, Southeast Front and Washington Street, are having much needed repairs done. Sidewalks from the library to Rehoboth Boulevard are being replaced on Southeast Front Street, and when they are completed, the roadway will receive asphalt coverage. North Washington Street from 5th Street to Rehoboth Boulevard will also undergo construction.
“One thing we are very excited about is the purchase of the Milford Armory,” Mr. Shupe said. “I have to thank Representative Harvey Kenton and Senator Gary Simpson for their assistance in the transaction. The city was able to buy the property for $1 and we plan to move part of the Parks and Recreation department as well as some of our Public Works department to the facility. We are also looking into it for use by the police department.”
Mr. Shupe said the city continues to grow, with two new incubator locations being developed downtown and a possible park created across from the library which will be named the Gary Emory Park, after the director of Parks and Recreation who plans to retire this year. Mr. Shupe said that the city also hopes to have the new billing office, which will be located in the old PNC Bank building, open by October.
“We hope that having the billing office downtown, rather than out on Airport Road, will make it easier for citizens,” Mr. Shupe said. “In addition, we hope that as people come in town to pay their bill, it will increase foot traffic downtown and encourage them to eat and shop while they are there.”
–Disclaimer: Mayor Bryan Shupe is the Editor-In-Chief and Co-Owner of MilfordLIVE.com and the Milford Review. He has no editorial control over articles in which he appears.