Milford business pros get update on local, state issues

MILFORD — More than 30 local business owners and professionals joined together Wednesday in Milford to hear about hot topics from local legislators.

Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, the annual legislative luncheon featured Milford Mayor Archie Campbell, local legislators Rep. Charlie Postles, R-33rd District, and Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-36th District.

Darel La Prade, president of the chamber’s board of directors and publisher of the Delaware State News, said the afternoon is one of the most important events the chamber hosts for its members throughout the year.

“Sometimes — many times, in fact — actions have unintended consequences,” he told the group.

Mr. La Prade said the chamber plays a role in ensuring its members are kept abreast of current legislative issues that could greatly impact businesses in the area and to advocate for them throughout the year.

On the homefront, Mayor Campbell said Milford is doing well.
“We all approved the budget, so there is no tax increase — which is really good for the town,” he said. He said future developments will add another boost to the town.

“As you noticed when you came in [to Mama Maria’s], the movie sign is up. People thought it wasn’t going to happen in Milford, but I talk to the person building it at least twice a week. It’s a go, it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to be 1,000 seats, nine theaters and they’re also going to serve alcohol, beer and wine. But only two drinks.”

Mayor Campbell said housing developments continue to boost the economy, along with expanded healthcare options, as well.
“I don’t really want Milford to be like a senior citizen community. Granted, I’m a senior citizen. But, the point I’m making is that we need younger blood with the new hospital and the old hospital taken over by medical, too.

“Everything is moving the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.
“We have eight areas of annexation. And we’re probably talking about 2,500 homes in the next three years to be built into Milford. Milford’s in the papers all the time. We have the DDD [Downtown Development District] and the opportunity zones. . . I think from the standpoint of Milford growing and things happening, this is the place now.”

United Church, a 2,000-plus congregation based in Dover, is also planning an expansion into Milford, Mayor Campbell said.
“Someone has donated land to them on the other side of the hospital, so they’re going to bring a church. A lot of people go there from Milford, so that’s a big change for Milford, also,” he said. “I think we’re under the microscope of a lot of people. For us, that’s good. There’s a lot of changes.”

Mayor Campbell had one more point to make with the audience.
“I want you to know that Milford is really growing. We have a great council. We all work with each other. We’re looking for the city to be an excellent city to live in and that’s the key.

“We want to keep the crime down, and we all know there is crime, so we want to make sure that people want to move here because it’s safe and affordable and it’s great,” he said.
Rep. Postles spoke about statewide issues that came before the General Assembly as legislative bills. They included minimum wage and single-use plastic bags, emphasizing that this year was round one of a two-year assembly.

“What I want to say is that it was very nice that the end of session was a little more peaceful and a lot earlier than other years,” he said with a chuckle. “It was relatively quiet. This is just the first leg and the second leg will be next year. I’m sure it will get interesting.”
Illegal dumping, littering, crime-related issues, physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, gun-related issues, and community transportation funds were all heard by local legislators this year, he added.

Rep. Shupe added more information for the business professionals around the topics of fiscal responsibility, job growth and healthcare.
“One thing that did not get out of the Senate this year, and I hope to bring it to the House, is the Fast Act,” he said.

The act would be geared toward vocations such as electricians, plumbers and others that don’t necessarily require college degrees.
“It gets us to think about other occupations instead of just having individuals go to college. It’s for the vocational workforce and giving them an opportunity to get a job in these industries,” he said. “It helps the economy and helps their family become independent, giving them the opportunity to make the fruits of their own labors,” he added.

He was also hopeful for a statewide real estate license, allowing agents to use one license instead of paying fees in multiple municipalities.
Health care is another field Rep. Shupe knows hits home for each of his constituents.

“We have a shortage of primary physicians not only here in Milford, not only here in Sussex County, but here in Delaware,” he said. “There’s a national study that says 81 percent of people who practice in their residency stay, and that is huge.

“So, we’re working on a loan repayment plan for physicians. So, after school, if they come to Delaware, they could have the opportunity for loan repayment.”

The program would include private and public investments alike to ensure its stability. In all, $1 million would come from the General Assembly each year, another $1 million from insurance companies and dollar-for-dollar matches from local hospitals.

“This is everyone saying: ‘This is important.’ We need more primary doctors. They are the first line of defense in our public health care system and we need them to work in our facilities,’” he said.
Continuing to discuss health care, he said the state is working to put more mental health professionals in elementary schools to ensure healthier communities, as well.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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