In 2017 Downtown Milford, Inc. welcomed several business to the downtown area including Lifecycle; My Sister’s Fault; Twice Is Nice, LLC; Novel Tea Nook; Not Too Shabby; Red Bandana and A Place for Her. Tatiana Akinfieva Dance Academy, The Music School of Delaware, Davis Bowen & Freidel and the Mispillion Art League saw expansion efforts in 2017 as well. With the start of a new year, Downtown Milford, Inc. Executive Director Murrie Zlotziver sees many more businesses looking to open in the downtown area.
“There are and have been a variety of discussions with potential new businesses in Downtown Milford,” Mr. Zlotziver said. “The types of businesses that have expressed some interest include a wine bar, barbecue restaurant, children’s toy store, bookstore and gift shop.”
Zlotziver believes businesses have an interest in Downtown Milford due to the appeal of the Mispillion River that runs through the center of town. In addition to the added charm the river provides, he believes that the quaintness of the downtown area allows for shoppers to enjoy a wide variety of experiences. Whether residents or visitors are in the mood to enjoy food, shopping or just natural beauty, Downtown Milford offers several attractions for each interest.
“DMI is currently holding meetings with its committee chairs to review and discuss what exactly is the significance of River Town, Art Town, Home Town,” Zlotziver said. “This tagline was chosen for a reason, but what does it really mean? What impact does it have? And how is it viewed by Milford’s residents? We are trying to define what each of these mean, what assets already exist and what is needed.” Zlotziver said that Milford’s art assets are numerous with the Milford Museum, Music School of Delaware, Gallery 37, Mispillion Art League and more. DMI is now trying to identify what may be missing, whether that be more artist studios, art supply stores or other art-related businesses.
Another project DMI has undertaken in partnership with the City of Milford is adding more bike racks around the downtown area to make it more appealing to cyclists. The organization has created a crowdfunding program through ioby to raise money for the new bike racks. The site can be accessed at https://www.ioby.org/project/accessible-artistic-secure-bicycle-parking.
“It’s not just about improving the business outlook, it’s about creating a positive outlook for all of Milford,” Zlotziver said. “Creating an atmosphere or feeling of community that makes young residents want to stay, brings new residents to town and welcomes back former residents. We want a vibrant Milford.”
Another area where DMI hopes to help new businesses is in the form of funding which is often a deterrent to starting a new business. DMI offers a revolving loan fund sponsored by the USDA for new and existing businesses. Most recently, My Sister’s Fault Bakery, Breakfast and Bread, received a loan from the program to get their business off the ground. In addition, DMI offers a Façade, Awning & Enhancement Grant that is funded through WSFS Bank. The grant funds half the cost of new façade improvements to businesses. Other funding options include loans through the FDA, SBA, First State Community Loan Fund and Historic Tax Credits.
“2017 was a growing year for DMI, and with a new year, new Executive Director and a relatively young, but dedicated board, I’m eager to see what 2018 has in store for us,” Sara Pletcher, President of DMI, said. “There’s a lot of promise for more businesses to join and grow our Downtown, we’re planning the 15th Annual Bug and Bud Festival and our beautification efforts will be enhanced with bike racks and the WSFS sponsored Façade, Awning & Enhancement Grant. With dedicated volunteers and a very supportive community, DMI is bound to flourish in 2018.”
Zlotziver said that, although there is a group of dedicated volunteers working to grow Milford’s downtown area, they are always in need of more. They are currently seeking a volunteer coordinator to oversee all of the volunteer needs and hope to soon have someone in place.
“DMI offers volunteer opportunities at almost every event,” Zlotziver said. “From Bug & Bud, 3rd Thursdays, Santa House, Holiday Stroll, Farmer’s Market, Milford in Bloom and the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. Until we identify a volunteer coordinator, anyone who wants to volunteer can call 302-839-1180 or visit the website Signup.com to see what volunteer needs we currently have.”
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