By Terry Rogers
Steve Twilley has only been the Executive Director of Downtown Milford, Inc. for a few months, but he is working toward building an even better organization in 2017. Mr. Twilley replaced Lee Nelson who retired in July 2017.
“As we enter our eighth year as a nationally accredited Main Street Association, and one of only seven in Delaware, we look forward to 2017 being a very exciting and busy year for DMI and downtown Milford,” Mr. Twilley said. “Our focus in 2017 will continue to be on the economic growth and development of downtown Milford as a great place to live, work and play.”
Mr. Twilley said that many of the activities at DMI in 2016 were designed to support the Rivertown Rebirth Downtown Master Plan that was adopted by City Council nearly one year ago. One of the suggestions in the plan was to expand shopping hours downtown as an added convenience to those who must shop after 5 PM.
“Our Entrepreneur Network’s monthly ‘Third Thursday’ promotion when downtown stores, galleries and eateries are open until 8 PM, has gotten off to an encouraging start,” Mr. Twilley said. “We look forward to expanding “Third Thursday” in 2017 to include more themed promotional events that will attract even more shoppers and visitors to downtown.”
Small Business Saturday, the Holiday Stroll and Santa House are creating a strong downtown holiday season, Mr. Twilley said. The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, which is highly anticipated each year, is planned for Friday, March 17. Throughout the year, DMI plans to build upon the popularity of Milford in Bloom, the annual Bug and Bud Festival, Milford International Food Festival and others in an effort to promote economic development throughout the town. The Farmer’s Market will also return to Riverwalk Park on South Walnut Street from May through September.
“All of these festivals and events are fun, but they are also an important economic driver for Milford,” Mr. Twilley said. “In 2016, these promotional events brought more than 18,000 people downtown to discover, or rediscover, all that Milford has to offer. Our many fine shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and taverns see increased traffic and sales, while entrepreneurs seeking the right fit for their expanding, relocating or new business see the many and varied opportunities to be a part of downtown Milford.”
One event sponsored by Downtown Milford Inc. through their Historic Preservation Committee provided a $4,000 grant to help restore the façade of a 19th century home in Milford’s South Historic District. The committee plans to hold the popular fund raiser again in 2017 as well as others throughout the year in an effort to build a grant fund designed to protect, preserve and restore Milford’s historic district and landmarks. Another program through DMI that is designed to beautify the downtown area is the “Five-for-Free” program.
“DMI provides five free gallons of paint to a business owner if they buy five gallons of paint for the interior or exterior of the building,” Mr. Twilley explained. “DMI also offers the availability of low interest mini-loans to support a business’ start-up, expansion or remodeling costs. Both of these programs support the restoration, attractiveness and business success of Milford’s downtown commercial and residential areas. Our Milford in Bloom sponsors and volunteers continue to make downtown beautiful with seasonal greenery and flowers that make Milford attractive and welcoming for businesses, residents and visitors.”
Mr. Twilley said that it was the many volunteers who offered their services throughout the year that made the successes of DMI possible. Their contributions are important components in Milford’s overall economic development strategy and DMI intends to focus even more on those strategies in 2017.
“Milford’s designation this past August as a Downtown Development District provides so many opportunities for private investment in our downtown’s commercial growth and residential opportunities,” Mr. Twilley said. “In 2017, we will continue to work closely with the City of Milford, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford and our many other stakeholders to support downtown businesses and property owners, and to find the best possible fits between available properties downtown and those investors and entrepreneurs who are looking to expand, relocate or start a new business in Milford. 2017 promises to be a very exciting year.”
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