Milford sees business growth

Terry RogersBusiness, Headlines, Milford Headline Story


The City of Milford is experiencing business growth for many reasons (Photo courtesy of DMI)

Milford has been named the third fastest growing city in the state and with recent business openings, it is clear that more companies are looking at the town to either open a new business or add an additional location for their existing company. Much of this has to do with a population explosion in the area.

In 2022, Milford’s population was 12,981, up from 11,111 in 2019, an increase of 14 percent. The median household income was $53,472 and the median property value was $335,639. Of the population in Milford, over 5,100 are employed an increase of 14.7 percent from 2022. All of these statistics lead businesses to look at the city as a place to open doors. A testimonial on the city website indicates why Milford is attractive to business owners.

“As a multi-office insurance agent, I have worked with a number of communities to find and open new locations,” Hunter Emory, a State Farm Insurance agent, said. “Milford has been by far the most resourceful and welcoming community to open in. They took the time to work with me and my staff to understand city code, economic data, and offer assistance to help us be successful in the growth of our business. Milford is a vibrant community, filled with opportunity for businesses to find a quality work force and a customer base that shows no signs of slowing down.”

A new corporate center will start construction soon at the corner of Milford Harrington Highway and Canterbury Road. This complex is designed to bring higher paying jobs to the area. The two industrial parks on Airport Road are full, according to city officials and there is a growing need for corporate centers like the one the city is building at this location.

New businesses in town had varied reasons for choosing Milford as their first brick-and-mortar location. Liz Klingensmith who owns the Cured Plate with her husband, Kenny, found that Milford provided the “vibe” she wanted for her unique dining experience, a Speakeasy-style charcuterie-focused restaurant. Initially, David and Jen Wade looked at locations in Camden for their WTF Meadery.

“Sara Bluhm who was then the Economic Development Director for the city, introduced us to Zack King who was renovating a building downtown,” Wade said. “When we first saw the location, we thought it was small, but after writing things down on paper and working with Zack, we were able to open the meadery. It has been a huge success so far.”

King and his wife, Marissa, have been credited with significant growth in the downtown area. The couple purchased and renovated the former J.C. Penney building, which was the last store in the franchise opened in the contiguous United States, converting it into a small shopping mall called Penny Square. The King’s opened fondue, a unique restaurant focused on menu items that match its name as well as June Bugs, a beauty and clothing boutique, Baby Bugs, a children’s clothing store, Shock Vinyl, a vintage record store and Studio You, a day spa. The upper floors house apartments. In addition, the couple renovated the former Derrickson’s Clothing Store, creating four new retail locations. That building houses WTF Meadery, Stewart’s Gourmet Goodies, The Cured Plate as well as Village and Venue. Upstairs houses offices and a photography studio.

“The community in Milford is very supportive,” King told Senator Tom Carper on a recent visit. “The community wants to see downtown Milford come back to life. It takes developers and people who are going to put money into these buildings. My wife and I can only open so many businesses, we are maxed out at this point. But we put in tenants in this building and the one we own down the street that are all retail.”

Downtown Milford is not the only area seeing growth. The Airpark Plaza Shopping Center on Dupont Highway is now home to a new Indian-themed restaurant, Twist Indian Grill. The owners, Maulin Patel, chose Milford at the suggestion of his brother-in-law, Priyank Patel, who owned a liquor store in Harrington. A new sushi restaurant will open soon in the same shopping center, Chaiyo Sushi. Jo Schmeiser, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, credits several things for the growth in Milford.

“The rate in which Milford is growing is very positive for businesses, organizations, and the quality of life for residents,” Schmeiser said. “The City of Milford does a wonderful job making sure infrastructure is a high priority,  making starting a business, moving to Milford, or both an attractive investment option. The more people living in Milford means these businesses have more potential customers, patients, clients, etc. That combined with visitors & tourists being attracted to Milford because of the increasing shopping, dining, entertainment and recreational opportunities, plus plenty of free parking, it’s no wonder Milford is one of the fastest growing cities in the state.”

Sara LeBright, Executive Director of Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI), agrees.

“When someone opens a business in our downtown, I look at it not just as a business but their dream, so watching them grow is such a joy to me,” LeBright said. “We have so much up-and-coming new things, a supportive, positive atmosphere. We are close to Dover where there are larger box stores and we are close to the beach. All of these are helping our town grow.”

The City of Milford offers assistance to those who are looking to open a business in the city. Information can be found on the Grow In Milford website page. The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford and DMI are also available to assist business owners who are considering Miflord for their next location. Contact CCGM at 302-422-3344 and DMI at 302-839-1180.



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