Leaders bring up concerns, hopes during luncheon in Milford

MC Leg Luncheon1

Community leaders join Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford’s Executive Director Jo Schmeiser as panelists for a legislative luncheon hosted by the chamber held at Rookery North in Milford Wednesday, Jan. 13. The Chronicle and The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

MILFORD — With budgeting and growth concerns looming for area legislators, First State Manufacturing President and CEO Dave Hitchens stood above the rest when he announced the creation of a new commission geared towards developing the area.

“We, the Chamber, are pleased to announce the new Greater Milford Economic Development Committee,” he began.

The committee will comprise of local leaders and business people committed to the growth of Milford with several goals in mind, including increasing visibility, attractions and jobs and securing funds for training, development and growth.

Other goals for the group will grow over time. It will be a 501(3)c operation which will afford the city more possibilities when it comes to funding and finding help for future growth.

“This is truly a public-private effort,” he said. “We’re going to look forward. It’s not what happened yesterday, my friends. It’s what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Mr. Hitchens, along with other speakers in attendance, hopes to bring passersby into Milford instead of merely driving by while heading to and from other destinations.

“This new Bayhealth complex is important. It means growth. 30,000 cars transit through Milford. Part of our job is making the say, ‘I’m coming back,’” he added.

The announcement came during a luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford with a panel of local leaders seated behind Mr. Hitchens Wednesday, Jan. 13 at the Rookery North.

Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe talks with Senator Gary Simpson and community members during a legislative luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford. The Chronicle and The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe talks with Senator Gary Simpson and community members during a legislative luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford. The Chronicle and The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

Mayor Shupe couldn’t help but express his excitement for Milford’s current growth opportunities, including the new Bayhealth campus to be built over the next several years.

“Milford, right now, it’s a very exciting time to be here. I don’t think we can underestimate the power Bayhealth will have in Milford. We will have an opportunity to be a regional player and increase our workforce, success and other businesses to create jobs for other families,” he said.

Leaders talk priorities, opportunities for Milford

Referring back to the ‘Rivertown Rebirth’ presentation heard by councilmembers on Monday, Jan. 11, Mayor Shupe said city leaders are working with the state to find opportunities for more foot traffic and recreational activities.

Senator Simpson is also looking forwarding to seeing that project come to fruition.

“I’ve always thought anything you do along the riverfront is a tourist attraction. That is something that is a great idea,” he said. “I’m excited to see how everything plays out.”

Representative Dave Wilson also spoke of growth and opportunity for improvements during the luncheon.

“Today it costs more for permitting than it did my first day in operation,” he said of his auction business.

Job creation is one of his biggest concerns, along with moving the agriculture and tourism industries forward, he explained during his introduction.

But he highlighted one constant Milford can claim: “Being a local business man and a member of the chamber, this is where I got my start. When a town is too big for one county, we’ve got to be doing something right.”

Panelists for the event included Delaware Economic Development Office Cabinet Secretary Bernice Whaley, Mayor Bryan Shupe, Senator Gary Simpson, Representative Harvey Kenton, Representative Dave Wilson, Sussex County Councilmember Joan Deaver, Sussex County Economic Development Director Melody Booker-Wilkins, Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Eric Buckson and Kent Economic Partnership Director James Waddington.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford also serves Harrington, Felton, Frederica, Greenwood, Ellendale and the surrounding areas.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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