by Terry Rogers
Jo Schmeiser, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, believes that the economic forecast for the City is very positive for the upcoming year. Schmeiser pointed out that Milford has been growing for years and is one of the fastest growing cities in the state so there is no reason to believe that trend will continue into 2019.
“The Chamber welcomed 63 new members so far this year,” Schmeiser explained. “These are businesses both new to the area and those that are interested in growing their customer base in and around Milford, who know what growth is happening here and want to be a part of it. Our current retention is 88 percent, new businesses are continuing to open, the school district is growing and improving, Milford was voted as the Village of the Year by Kent County Tourism and the Downtown Milford, Inc., Ladybug Music Festival was one of the recipients of the New Event of the Year from Southern Delaware Tourism, so Milford is getting noticed more and more in a positive manner, which definitely helps the economy.”
Darel Laprade, President of the CCGM Board of Directors, supported what Schmeiser said about the growing economy in Milford.
“Chamber membership is always a leading edge measure of the health of a local economy,” Laprade said. “The fact that we added more than 60 members in 2018 which represents about five percent in our membership base, speaks volumes about the health and the outlook for Milford’s economy in 2019.”
In order to continue to encourage new businesses and retain existing businesses, the Chamber continues to add opportunities and benefits for its members while also staying in tune with what’s trending and current in the greater Milford area, county, state and nation, according to Schmeiser. The Board of Directors continues to meet monthly to keep the Chamber effective, supportive and worthwhile to members.
“The CCGM Economic Development Commission continues to stay at the pulse of needs of existing and new businesses,” Schmeiser said. “They’re in tune with the educators who are molding future leaders in Milford, stay on top of infrastructure, business development and real estate. Our Ambassadors stay connected with the members to make sure they’re happy with our Chamber and that Laurie and I do our best to make businesses want to be part of our organization.”
LaPrade pointed out that the Chamber continues to add committees designed to grow the economic base in Milford.
“In 2019, our Chamber will be forming a new Legislative Affairs Committee so that we can more closely follow the actions of state legislature,” LaPrade said. “Our committee will advocate on behalf of our businesses, urging lawmakers to streamline permitting processes where possible and to seek ways to cut red tape. The committee will also be a watchdog for our business community and, when appropriate, we will interact with other chambers in the state to make certain businesses get a fair shake in Dover. Our goal is to add to greater Milford’s economic base, by making it an attractive place for businesses to expand and to start.”
Schmeiser believes the City is doing a good job promoting business in Milford. She says that the City of Milford works closely with the Chamber, DMI, existing businesses, the school district and other business-related organizations to make sure Milford is not just a great place to have a business but offers a wonder quality of life as well. She feels Milford is lucky to have officials from the City that care so much about the community and want to make sure everything is in place for growth and improvements are always being made to make Milford attractive to businesses, residents and visitors.
When asked how the new hospital will have an impact on business in Milford, Schmeiser said that no matter who she speaks to, the new hospital always enters the conversation. For this reason, she thinks the hospital is already making an impact and, once it opens, it will continue to draw more people to work, live, play and shop, boosting the economy.
“Teamwork is what we are doing right to bring new businesses here,” Schmeiser said. “We work together for the good of the community is what Milford does best. We show support for each other and, when people know you’re part of a team, and not working just for your own interests, it makes Milford appealing.”