DMI announces rebranding

Terry RogersBusiness, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Downtown Milford has a new logo and identity

A few days prior to the Bug and Bud Festival, Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI) announced the “dawn of a new era” with an entirely new brand and identity. The changes were announced on social media.

“We are excited at the new direction DMI is taking,” Shelby DiCostanzo, President of DMI said. “We have several new board members who are bringing a new energy to the organization, and we felt that it was time to not only reorganize internally, but to make some changes externally as well.”

According to the social media posts, DMI’s rebranding effort reflects the deep commitment to serving and uplifting the heart of our city, downtown Milford. The organization recognized the evolving needs of our community and are dedicated to meeting them with innovation, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of purpose.

“One thing that will not change is our support of downtown businesses,” DiCostanzo said. “That is something that is the foundation of DMI and we would never change that. However, we are hoping to strengthen that support in any way we can while also promoting downtown as the heart of our River Town, Art Town, Home Town.”

DMI began as the Downtown Revitalization Committee which grew out of an October 26, 1992 city workshop. Then-Ward 1. Councilman Lawrence Lewis urged the Council to take action to revitalize the downtown business area. Then-City Manager Michael Booker and Police Chief Richard Carmean agreed there was a need to beautify and improve infrastructure downtown, they felt it should be handled by a private entity.

Under the direction of Councilman Lewis, the Downtown Revitalization Committee (DRC) was officially established on February 1, 1993 with a focus on Walnut Street from Causey Avenue to Northwest Front Street with portions of North and South Front Streets plus other adjoining streets added later. Chris DeMartin and Councilman Lewis were the first co-chairs with Dr. Bruce Topol replaced DeMartin as co-chair.

In 1994, the Delaware State Economic Development and Tourism Division started providing technical support for Milford to participate in the National Main Street Program, a project sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This led DRC to begin organizing under Main Street principals.

A $150,000 grant from the state was obtained in 1994 and was used for sidewalk and street improvements. Milford City Council also agreed to pay for a full-time director. In January 1995, another $176,000 was received for more sidewalk and street improvements. Marguerite Ashley was hired as the coordinator in 1995. Although council approved paying the salary of the coordinator for two years, they did not approve a third year and Ashley left the position in 1996.

In February 1995, the organization’s name was changed to Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) and became a member of Main Street later that same year. By the middle of 1995, DMI had raised $500,000 in grant funding. The funding was used to place utility lines underground, placing brick pavers on sidewalks and crosswalks, installing new traffic signals, installing historic streetlamps and landscaping with trees, shrubs and benches. The grant required DMI to raise $42,000 in matching funds and a membership drive raised the funds in just a few months.

The Farmer’s Market was launched in July 1995 with a grant from the Department of Agriculture plus support from local businesses. The first logo, created by combining two logos that won first and second place in a contest, was adopted in 1996. The original winning designs were created by Donna Juhrden and Dan Bond but combined by Martha Pileggi.

The Milford Heritage Festival, designed to celebrate Milford with an emphasis on natural history, began in June 1996. In 1997, partnering with the Milford Historical Society and Milford Community Parade to organize the “Holiday Glow” and built the Santa House.

Over the years, DMI has completed multiple projects in downtown Milford, many of which are still ongoing. Using the Community Redevelopment Fund, DMI was recognized for its beautification efforts in the downtown area. A revolving loan fund was created in 2000, providing small, low-interest loans to downtown businesses. The same fund was also used to create a Façade and Awning program, providing business with funds to help them improve the outside of their buildings.

On May 30, 2003, a fire swept through downtown, destroying several buildings. The next day, DMI held the Strawberry Festival across the street as planned and, three days later, met with local and state leaders I the downtown area. DMI was instrumental in getting $25,000 state grant money to help property owners obtain assessments of the damage.

The Bug and Bud Festival began in 2004 as a way to recognize the 30th anniversary of the ladybug being named the state bug. The festival continues today, and this year celebrated it’s 20th anniversary while also recognizing it as the 50th anniversary of the ladybug designation.

“Our history shows that DMI is vital to the growth and improvement of downtown,” DiCostanzo said. “With our new branding and identity, we intend to help promote our thriving, growing downtown.”

DMI continues to seek volunteers to help promote its mission. For more information, call 302-839-1180 or visit their website.

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