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Milton Economic Committee holds first meeting

June 3, 2022

Milton’s Economic Development Committee held its first meeting May 23, and is already set to give a presentation to town council on how it plans to proceed with enhancing the town’s commercial, arts and cultural footprint.

The committee was formed in April after Mayor John Collier took office. He put Councilwoman Annette Babich in charge. Babich, who runs Inn the Doghouse bed and breakfast, sits on the board of Milton Theatre and created the annual Dog Days of Summer Festival, had campaigned on wanting to form such a committee.

Babich said a presentation to council will be given at its Monday, June 6 meeting, but the gist of it is a three-year plan that starts with a townwide survey to help gather data. 

The plan also includes instituting pop-up events and having public art displays. The committee will meet monthly with each member of the seven-person committee tackling specific tasks. 

“Our goals include promoting commercial development, enhancing arts and culture, and working with community leaders to create a cohesive master schedule of events for the town. We have identified projects designed to attract both visitors and businesses to our town, and at the same time, offer residents new opportunities. It is an exciting time, and we are happy to be part of the process,” Babich said.

Committee member Barry Goodinson said, “I expect the committee to be asking lots of questions and gathering lots of information, so we know what the community wants and needs. One of our first tasks, then, will be to survey the community, and to inventory the businesses and amenities in town, so we can see where there are gaps. I also expect the committee to be hands-on and practical. We’re not just going to come up with suggestions or bat around ideas. We’re going to take on and complete projects that have the potential to strengthen the town or catalyze additional community improvements. So, I expect we’ll take on some short-term projects at first that will be fairly visible and have immediate impact.”

Goodinson said the town needs to be able to tell the world what makes Milton special, so a branding project will likely be one of the first orders of business. 

“This brand will be the basis of our future marketing and promotion work.  I also expect we’ll take on some sort of event, something that will become a signature event that will be unique to Milton, and designed to attract attention and visitors. Eventually, I hope we’ll be able to take on projects that improve public space in town.  Milton is a walkable town, but it can be even better.  If we take on a project or two that brings more life to our public spaces, we can make the town an even better place to explore,” he said.

Several members of the committee come with backgrounds in business or event planning. Babich did both in her prior career as a wedding planner before coming to Milton, and she said through events like the Dog Days of Summer Festival, she has built relationships with local businesses and community leaders that will help her as chair of the committee. 

Committee member Mark Carter has been the longtime head of Dogfish Head’s Beer and Benevolence Program and co-owner of Quest Adventures, which offers kayak rentals on the Broadkill River. Carter said projects he’d like to see the committee work  include branding, collaboration across the community for events, and helping to identify and attract new businesses.  

“I believe it’s critical to attract businesses that will help to create a vibrant downtown that other communities would travel to visit. I also feel it’s critical that the committee work with the town and others on the vision for the riverfront as it evolves,” he said.

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