The '50s and '60s

1954 – The Milford Chamber of Commerce is organized and incorporated by Alfred Stanford, Publisher, Milford Citizen, Joseph Roberts, Jr., Edgecomb Steel and Albert P. Stowe, Page Motors. J. Yale Rubin of Wayside Furniture served as the first president. Some of the Chamber original members included: Harrison’s Hardware, Hebert Jewelers, Howes Drug Store, Milford Lobster Pound, Miller Electric, Wayside Furniture Shop, Beard Sand & Gravel, Princess Beauty Salon, George J. Smith & Son, Chamberlain Ambulance Service, Milford Savings Bank, Stevens Automotive, United Illuminating, Maurer Artcraft, Milford Concrete Products, Attorney William Gitlitz, Dr. Milton Krantz, Stevens Ford, and Attorney Richard H. Lynch.

1955 – Fred Wright and John Sherbak are co-chairman. The Milford Chamber became a member of the National Better Business Bureau. This meant that the Milford Chamber of Commerce, joined forces with 700 other chambers across the country. One of the major projects included a membership drive to recruit 250 new members. Parking in downtown was a major issue. It was determined that off street parking was needed to ease the traffic congestion downtown. Alvin C. Smith was elected Chairman of the Parking Committee. A survey said that 1,200 parking spaces were needed and a $623,000 parking project was slated. The Chamber led a fight against the Blue Laws, started the traditional Christmas Lighting ceremony on the Milford Green and in Devon. The Chamber was instrumental in the formation of a new Harbor Authority to increase the value of the harbor.

1956 – Chairman Harry Dickinson cited the rise in Chamber membership to 340 as a major accomplishment. Some of the first information about the Atlas Shopping Mall came to be common knowledge. Some members were opposed to it being located on the Post Road, but Harry Dickinson said that a positive position needed to be taken. “Mr. Dickinson declared, ‘You are in competition, and you are going to be in competition, and the best answer is to be competitive.'” In December, led by Bernard J. Burns, The United Fund becomes reality after a year of debate.

1957 – Chairman Robert Raffauf was elected. Parking still an issue. Sub-headline: New Haven Evening Register: C of C Head Says “People Shun Present Lots as Too Far Away.” According to Chamber President Curry Bartlett, the average person doesn’t want to walk more than 312 feet from their cars and hills and inclines form barriers that keep people from parking. Another study is proposed to fix parking problems. Parking Authority leaders quit at end of year and more studies called for. The United Fund raises $88,000. There are also problems with bus transportation: raising fares and the elimination of bus routes. Milford Junior Achievement program was started at the Chamber.

1958-1960 – Chairman Joseph Roberts Jr. of Edgecomb Steel is elected. The Milford Chamber of Commerce had 300 members or 90 percent of all business and industry in the community. Through its efforts a harbor commission and a parking authority was started. The Chamber backed a street lighting program, started a program for locating new industry for the area, and maintained an industrial directory. It launched a series of successful sale days for retailers, started Business-Education days and carried out a Christmas lighting program. A Fire Safety Program for Milford Businesses was started. A new membership drive in 1958 featured a “Keep Milford Ahead” program, “to inform local business and professional people about the Chamber of Commerce, draft a new program of activities and obtain additional membership support.”

1959 saw a record breaking 10.6 percent rise in Retail Sales. February 4, 1960 the Milford Citizen, in conjunction with the Chamber, put out an issue about Milford to be used to attract new industry. The Chamber opposed adoption by the Planning & Zoning Board’s ruling on increasing the number of liquor outlets in Milford. The Schick plant was built on Leighton Road. During the 1960s the Milford Chamber of Commerce was called by one newspaper “potentially the most influential organization in the city.” Its focus was on downtown off-street parking, traffic flow, and turning the Green into a massive garden of flowers and shrubs. The Chamber’s mission was to sell Milford’s charm and accessibility to business and industry, redevelop downtown, attract restaurants and shoppers and unite downtown merchants. New competition with the construction of the city’s first shopping mall on Route One sparked the Downtown Retail Council to revitalize the city’s business center. Evening business hours and holiday store hours were extended to compete with the mall. Regular hours were set. There was a surge to blend the natural asset of the city with the downtown community. Suggestions to remodel storefronts and merge private parking lots cropped up throughout the decade. BIC founder, Marcel Bich, bought the Waterman Pen Company in Seymour, Connecticut, in 1958. In 1959, the introduction of the famous BIC ballpoint pen that Writes First Time, Every Time® changed the writing habits of America. By 1963, BIC needed to expand its manufacturing facilities and moved to its present site in Milford, Connecticut, which remains the headquarters of BIC Corporation. The Chamber joined the Better Business Bureau; organized holiday promotions, including underwriting the cost of holiday lighting on the green; conducted Business Education Day; backed the removal of downtown parking meters; and with the help of the Small Business Association and through the Milford Center Development Corporation tried to effect downtown modernization by selling public stock. The Chamber also spearheaded industrial development recruitment and state and congressional legislative action. Membership drives are held. Chamber backs the maintenance and extension of rail passenger service, bus routes, and tax service. The Chamber moved its headquarters a few times during the decade, eventually landing at 102 New Haven Avenue. In the mid-60s the then-Taylor Library was leased to the city for conversion to office space for the Industrial Development Commission of the Chamber. In 1967, the United Fund, which had been part of the Chamber sought independence and became today’s United Way.

1968 – Wallace Rubin became president of the chamber. The chamber was active in a railroad station revitalization program that included construction of high level platforms, a new station enclosure and stairways. A babysitting course was developed in conjunction with the Fire Department. A work-study program is initiated with the Milford High Schools. Business is urged to hire youth and minorities. A summer jobs initiative for students is implemented. The chamber and the Red Cross sponsored a First Aid Course. A survey on federal legislation was developed. The Chamber participated in an Anti-Litter Campaign. A busing plan with New Haven is aired. A shoplifting clinic for businesses is held. Milford Day is supported. A self-improvement class to become certified secretaries was implemented. The chamber tackled downtown traffic issues and opposed a new traffic plan (including the change of High Street to one way). The first Chamber civic brochure was published in 1969. Presidents/Chairmen included: Bernard J. Burns ’60, Donald Miner ’61-’63, Thomas C. Parsons ’63, Edward Carrol ’64, John E. Peterson ’65-’67, Kenneth Rodrigue ’67, Wallace Rubin ’68, Fred Bauce ’69. In the early seventies Robert Cooke was named volunteer President of the Board of Directors. Richard Pilvelait was named the new Executive Director. He was the former director of promotions for Lafayette Plaza in Bridgeport. The Chamber again reorganized committee’s into membership, industrial development, law & safety, transportation, economic development, environmental, beautification-tourism, area retail, municipal government, and legislative affairs. TEAM, (Total Effort to Advance Milford) began a membership drive.

The '70s and '80s

1972 – Expo 72 is held in Milford High School gymnasium. A tourist information center opened at Howard Johnson’s. The Milford Chamber participated in the creation of the city Plan of Development.

1973 – Bob Cooke was re-elected to a second term. The Chamber supported the repeal of Blue Laws. A survey of business to determine present and future needs relative to employment was completed. Governor Meskill addressed the chamber with over 250 members and their wives present. Richard Pilvelait, Executive Director died at home in June. A Chamber search brings Robert Gregory to the chamber as executive director in September. In December, the national energy crisis turned out the holiday lights on the Green. Natural wreaths were put up on street poles for decorations.

1974 – Joseph Einhorn was elected president. The Chamber advocated the city purchase of Charles Island from UI and then extending a breakwater along the sandbar to create a giant basin for recreational uses. At the same time the Jai Alai Fronton was coming to town and MCC strongly expressed their support. The Chamber calls for return of Simon Lake’s submarine, “Baby Explorer” from the Bridgeport Museum of Arts and Science. Unfortunately it was sent to Groton naval museum instead. Ironically, it was returned to the city in the 90s. Milford Progress, Inc. (MPI) was formed by the chamber to foster economic development with Diana Nytko as the first president. Seed money of $100 each, was donated by the original ten directors to form the corporation. The former Milford Center Development Corporation was disbanded. The Oyster Festival was created with Diana Nytko as first chairman. She continued this position for the next two years. A regional solution to garbage removal was favored by chamber. A new Devon Center committee formed with a strong chamber involvement.

1975 – Joseph Einhorn served his second term. Devon and downtown were the subject of parking and traffic concerns. A sub-committee was formed for Devon to advise on the use of federal funds. Milford Progress created a new plan for downtown. MPI received Community Development Block Grant funds for a storefront loan program. The “Student Participation in Government” program was created where high school students learned about local government. Chamber backed the new police station. The first membership consultant, Gene Kernan, was hired. “Milford Day at Shea”, attended by 1200, was coordinated by the chamber. The first Oyster Festival was organized with three objectives; to build a feeling of community spirit and togetherness, to provide a tourist attraction and to raise funds for the various participating organizations. The oyster was picked as the central character because of its past and present ties to Milford. Music, arts and crafts, canoe race, oyster contests, oyster boat visit and many other events made for a great event. 5,000 expected, 20,000 showed up. Free concerts on the Green were started by the Downtown Merchants Association, (DMA) which operated under the chamber’s direction. Time magazine wrote an article on crime in Milford, which was criticized by Police Chief Bull and the chamber. A Halloween parade and party was supported by DMA. A new holiday program put 40,000 mini-lights on trees on the green for a “Festival of Lights”.

1976 – Robert Joy, attorney and Probate Judge, became chairman of the board. The Chamber fought against “the white elephant” building conversion to senior housing. Devon, the downtown, and harbor were all in focus. A pitch was made for the former library as chamber headquarters. MPI used the SBA 502 program to finance Precision Metal Fabricating new building.

1977 – Bob Joy served another year as chairman. The Post Office move from downtown was opposed. The fight continued against senior housing in the “white elephant” building (where the current downtown parking lot is located). Ross Baxter (former chamber exec) was ordained as an Episcopal priest. The Chamber wins approval to have its office in the Taylor Library. The Milford Fine Arts Council will also have space. Downtown Merchants file appeal of P&Z approval of “white elephant” apartments. Downtown task force formed. Alarcon Tire received SBA loan for new facility through MPI. Milford Jai Alai opens in May. New signs designating parking put up downtown. MPI developed a storefront loan program for Devon using CDBG funds. The Oyster Festival continues to grow. The 57-ft 1926 schooner Trade Wind visited, an oyster-shucking contest, rugby game and catboat race were added to the one-day event. Chamber urges establishment of a transit district. MPI uses SBA 502 program to finance Sealand Environmental.

1978 – William Malcolm, elected chairman. Long Range Planning that was started in 77 finished work in 78. Chamber organizes opposition to the move of the Post Office from downtown. MPI hires director John McCarthy using CETA funds. MPI pushes for downtown parking in cooperation with the city. $27,000 raised to complement $80,000 in Block Grant funds. White elephant building torn down and 100 space parking lot created. MPI completed an SBA 502 loan to Alarcon Tire to expand in Devon.

1979 – Cap Zito, Milford Citizen Newspaper, elected chairman. Milford Transit District formed as a result of action by MPI. MDMPA holds holiday parade. Funding awarded for courthouse downtown. Spirit of Milford coordinates all holiday activities. Network of Executive Women formed through the efforts of Phyllis Holt and Diana Nytko.

1980 – Edmund Meinket, chamber president, dies in August. Attorney Robert Kapusta steps in. Naugatuck Junction Days held in Devon. Downtown Merchants opposes plan to move Superior Court. World’s largest singing Christmas tree erected on the Green. A quality of life brochure is produced with a local company. Endorsement was made of President Reagan’s economic program. The Chamber reiterated its opposition to a state income tax and supported the repeal of the Anti-Litter tax. Membership stood at 476 at years end.

1981 – Attorney Robert Kapusta, Kapusta & Otzel Law Firm, elected president. A third congressional district branch office is established with the held of Congressman Larry De Nardis in the Chamber Headquarters. Chamber supported the concept of a restaurant in the former railroad station. MPI forms a downtown task force. Downtown Merchants and Professional Association sponsor a Croquet Tournament on the green. MPI hosts an SBA seminar and offers storefront loans. A total of 56 loans were completed during the program that ran until the 90s. A Milford Business Expo ’81 was held at Milford Jai Alai. The Milford Chamber of Commerce Trust Fund was created. 1982 – John Peterson, Beazley Realty, was elected president. The Chamber opposed disruption to single-family zoning, opposed the unincorporated business tax and had a successful membership drive. The Chamber advanced the idea of a city manager form of government to replace present system. MPI received SBA certification as a 503-development company, one of the few certifications given an organization serving an individual city. Liberty Belle Business After Hours cruise most popular. “Milford Makes It!” was the membership drive theme.

1983 – Winthrop Smith, Sr., Smith Funeral Home, elected president. MPI completes SBA 503 loan to Falcon Electronics, Inc. Chamber designated as an official U.S. Small Business Administration Resource Center. Chamber recommends that the city hire an energy consultant and investigate the potential of cogeneration, the conversion of solid waste to energy. Chamber involved with update of city’s downtown plan. “Welcome to Milford” package for new residents prepared. 1984 – Daniel Meisenheimer, Spectrum Associates, elected president. Recovery Alliance files FOI complaint against MPI because of their opposition of the organization’s desire to occupy the RR station. MPI prevails. Chamber lobbies for courthouse retention. Chamber raises funds to assist in renovation of Taylor building. City kicks in $31,000 for sidewalks, streetlights, and landscaping around the building. Project serves as example for the rest of downtown renewal. Chamber celebrates 30- year anniversary. U.S. Military Academy band performs Christmas Concert as part of the “Spirit of Milford”. New logo adopted by chamber as part of image enhancement. Seagull shaped like an “M” shows upward thrust of the organization. Membership stood at 450. Board of Aldermen designated MPI as the official arm of the city to oversee downtown development. Gateway Tourism District formed with West Haven, Trumbull and Stratford. Downtown plan unveiled. Chamber backs plan for a wildlife preserve at Milford Point. Chamber exec attends weeklong Main Street program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. – See more at: http://www.milfordct.com/chamber-history.html#sthash.u4hAcaMH.dpuf

1984 – Daniel Meisenheimer, Spectrum Associates, elected president. Recovery Alliance files FOI complaint against MPI because of their opposition of the organization’s desire to occupy the RR station. MPI prevails. Chamber lobbies for courthouse retention. Chamber raises funds to assist in renovation of Taylor building. City kicks in $31,000 for sidewalks, streetlights, and landscaping around the building. Project serves as example for the rest of downtown renewal. Chamber celebrates 30- year anniversary. U.S. Military Academy band performs Christmas Concert as part of the “Spirit of Milford”. New logo adopted by chamber as part of image enhancement. Seagull shaped like an “M” shows upward thrust of the organization. Membership stood at 450. Board of Aldermen designated MPI as the official arm of the city to oversee downtown development. Gateway Tourism District formed with West Haven, Trumbull and Stratford. Downtown plan unveiled. Chamber backs plan for a wildlife preserve at Milford Point. Chamber exec attends weeklong Main Street program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

1985 – Sam Bergami, Alinibal, elected president. Chamber holds 30th Anniversary party at Milford Jai Alai. Milford Convention and Visitors Commission supports hockey tournament. Volunteers assist in lighting the green. $15,000 raised for Taylor Building improvements. Partnership formed between schools and business pushed by chamber. A School-Business partnership to improve quality of education formed with Milford Chamber and Milford Rotary. The “Why Milford” promotional pamphlet presented to Mayor Jagoe. MPI named general contractor for downtown sidewalk revitalization. Beautification of downtown along with the outside of the Taylor Library began. Preparations began for the 350th celebration.

1986 – Terry Munk, Appaloosa Trading Company, elected president. A full-time membership director, Joy Rice was hired. The chamber formed Youth Job Bank and promoted Mathcounts as part of its continued involvement with youth. MCC was involved with the decisions on the Parsons and Toulson Buildings reuse, and Indian River and Woodmont Road Bridges. Chamber coordinated Milford’s participation in the State’s parade in New Haven, which included building a float that resembled Captain Kidd’s ship. Second phase of the downtown sidewalk project completed. Great American campout held on Gulf Beach coordinated by Chamber and C&V Commission commemorating 125 years of camping.

1987 – The first woman to head the chamber, Phyllis Holt, Colonial Bank, was elected president. Debate held over height of the proposed building at 1 New Haven Avenue. Chamber supports, Mayor Jagoe opposes. LMP was the major developer downtown. Milford prepares for 350th celebration. Chamber rallys opposition to a mall in Orange. Chamber and MPI urged demolition of Toulson Building and use of the land for parking. Chamber formed Milford Pride, an anti-litter organization affiliated with KAB. Milford becomes the first city in Connecticut to be certified by Keep America Beautiful. Devon-West Shore Business Association formed by the Chamber. Frank Forte, 1st president. Groundbreaking was held by Subway to house its new World Headquarters on BIC Drive. Today there are over 730 employees occupying three separate buildings.

1988 – Harry Jones, Translite, elected president. Chamber urges privatization of refuse pickup and a vehicle replacement program for the City of Milford. Devon has holiday lights and Santa arrived at Walnut Beach, courtesy of the Devon-West Shore Business Association run by the Chamber. U. S. Military Academy Band gave a Christmas concert.

1989 – Marjorie Nealon is elected President. Chamber is very involved in the city’s 350th celebration. Milford Today, a monthly newspaper, debuts, published by the Chamber and distributed free to 21,000 households. Carrie Jayne heads Devon-West Shore Business Association.

The '90s

1990 – Robert Pelliccia began the decade as Chamber President.

1991 – The birth of Milford Chamber of Commerce Child Care Consortium led by Jody Culmone who is also President of the Chamber. Its purpose is to provide day care for employees of chamber members. The Consortium solicits $100,000, $25,000 from each company – IBM, Schick, BIC and United Way to begin program. The program is still in existence and very strong. Robert Gregory retired in 1992 after 19 years as Executive Vice President of the Chamber. He was succeeded by Kelly Golden Lauver a former employee of the Bridgeport Chamber.

1992 – Paul Hoffman, President, Orange Research, is elected President of the Chamber. Harrison’s Ace Hardware celebrated 85 years in Milford. Fred Lisman was Mayor throughout the decade. The Legislative Action Committee, founded and chaired by Armand Cantafio and Paul Hoffman in 1990, is still a very strong force within the chamber. Lobbyist Marshal Collins was hired and remains our lobbyist to this day. Phyllis Holt, a former officer at Bank of Boston, brought the SBA program Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) to Milford (housed in Chamber building)

1993 – Armand Cantafio of Northeast Electronics elected President. Costco Wholesale, J.C. Penney, Filene’s and ShopRite all opened their doors in Milford. Dr. Kramer, Superintendent of Schools, discussed the desegregation plan proposed by Governor Weicker. The downtown sidewalk reconstruction is completed and Senator Joseph Lieberman visits the chamber membership.

1994 – Bruce Miller, Harrison’s ACE Hardware, elected President. The Chamber supports the Milford Jai Alai fronton’s ability to simulcast dog-racing events in Connecticut. Legislative Action forms a political action committee for the Chamber. They continue fighting for workmen’s compensation reform, and support of the Head of the Harbor Plan.

1995 – Willard Chamberlain of Fleet Bank elected President. He presides over the renovation of the Taylor Library Building in celebration of its one hundredth anniversary. Kathleen Alagno hired as new Executive Vice President (Executive Director). Governor John Rowland speaks to the membership.

1996 – Wendy Weir, ReMax Realty, elected President. Lt. Governor Jodi Rell speaks to the Chamber at the Annual Meeting. The chamber opposes the increase in starting wage to $6.06 per hour. Supports consignment shops in their efforts to stay in business, supports the opening of Milford Harbor Project, and lobby’s against the high cost of doing business in Connecticut. The first BIC Golf Classic took place at Yale University for the benefit of the Milford Chamber of Commerce Trust Fund. The Milford Chamber partners with the Valley Chamber for the first “Business Showcase”, a 14 town expo event. Milford ties are sold to benefit the holiday lighting program. The chamber advocates on behalf of manufacturers for reducing permit process times. Milford Landing, a 40 slip transient marina, is dedicated.

1997 – Michael Paolini, CPA, elected President. The chamber in cooperation with the City of Milford, develops access to the Internet with the first city home page. The Mini-Grant Program for Students is expanded. A ” Welcome to Milford” sign at the Head of the Harbor is erected. Expansion of insurance benefits for members is entered into. Legislative activities of the chamber include: lobbying for lower electric rates and the deregulation of electricity, lobbying against increases in workers compensation claims, and opposing corporate responsibility bills. The State of the City Address by Mayor Lisman is begun.

1998 – Lisa Arenberg, Advanced Placement, Inc. is elected President. The chamber supports the existing system of tourism boards, especially the Greater New Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau. Legislatively it supports the Coalition to Deregulate Electricity. Supports the restructuring of the electric industry. They oppose the Corporate Responsibility proposal. Fights against the increase of minimum wage. Supports the Connecticut Armed Forces Week. Opposes the public usage of dollars to build shopping mall in New Haven. Holds a day-long retreat for the Board of Directors retreat facilitated by Barbara DeBaptiste and completed long range planning document for chamber future. Institutes a Standards of Stewardship for Directors. Expansion of the scholarship program with additional funding.

1999 – Attorney Robert Kappel of Jacobi, Kappel & Case elected as President. The Milford Chamber of Commerce Trust Fund expanded. The Mini Grant Program for Students was increased. Ken Brannin of BIC Corporation leading the Manufacturing Committee creates an IOS 9000 certification program for Milford manufacturers working with Central Connecticut State University resulting in 9 new certifications. Dollars are committed to fund the Downtown Plan of Development along with Milford Progress and City as partners. MPI contracts with Dean Allan Plattus of Yale School of Urban Design for Downtown study as part of the overall city Comprehensive Plan of Development. The Connecticut Post Mall presented plans for expansion. The chamber supports the City in a request for Open Space Grant. The Strategic Plan 2000 for the Chamber was published. The Summer Concert Series grow thanks to Kapusta & Otzel. SCORE counsels over 73 new business cases in Milford. Chamber supports the need for a sewer study in downtown Milford to open up development. The chamber supports the demolition of blighted buildings on River Street and an open-air plaza. The building of Schooner Wharf is supported by the chamber. The Milford Chamber continued the fight against the Long Wharf Mall project in New Haven.

2000 to Present

2000 – Kenneth E. Brannin, V. P. Operations of the BIC Corporation is elected Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Henry Lee addresses the Chamber at the annual meeting. The Chamber takes higher degree of interest in world trade and its effect on Milford business. The expansion of the Internet leads many discussions. Expanded views on commerce on the state, regional and national level are entertained. The Gallis Report notes that transportation was the most serious issue facing business in the region along the I-95 and Route 15 corridors. The chamber supports the improvements of Tweed airport. It continues to oppose the Long Wharf Galleria. Supports the Milford Board of Education in their initiatives to raise the bar on requirements for graduation. Opposes many new mandates on employers that would increase health care costs, workers compensation and unemployment compensation. Opposes legislation on paid family and medical leave of absence, holds the line on deficit spending by the state, insists DEP educate small business on compliance with, waste and water regulations. The Chamber expands efforts on the BIC Golf Classic and scholarships. Continues partnership in the Business Showcase a 9-town Expo. Continues the Downtown Plan of Development with Yale University, Charette held in chamber side yard. Broad Street fire erupts burning down the Sugar Shack and Retroactive and Canvas Patch; chamber creates the Phoenix Fund to help the displaced businesses. Opposes affordable housing development in Milford, supports downtown bed & breakfasts. The railroad overpass construction begins.

2001 – Paul Moss, President of Milford Hospital elected Chamber Chairman. This was the year for technology upgrades, to be able to make the chamber deliver services more efficiently. A Technology Committee is organized and bids were sent out. Mark Hoffman from Orange Research volunteers to be a technical consultant. A new networked computer system installed with access to e-mail and the internet. A new telephone system was put in place with voice mail. The Chamber creates a discount card for Students who do well on state academic performance test. The Chamber supports automobile dealers on state banning arbitration clauses in franchise agreements. Opposes the potential closing of entrance ramps onto I-95 at Bic Drive. Backs the upgrade of proposed at Devon project. Continues the opposition to affordable housing apartment complexes. Supports open space acquisition. Chamber supports improvements on either Tweed or Bridgeport airport, Westfield renames mall, “Westfield Shoppingtown Connecticut Post. Mayor Lisman announces he will not run for re-election. James Richetelli is elected Mayor. Re-building of train trestles begin on River Street, Old Gate Lane. Chamber supports rail station in Orange. Trust Fund expands scholarships to 20K per year, a huge increase from the one $500 scholarship started in memory of Edmund Meinket in 1981. Café Atlantique opens downtown. The Downs House becomes issue for preservation. On Thursday, September 11, 2001, some members of the Legislative Action Committee watch live television coverage of the terrorist destruction of the second tower in the World Trade Center, as it is hit by second airliner. The following Saturday the Chamber with the Milford Jaycees hold a collection for workers boots, gloves, medical supplies etc. The American Red Cross and United Way solicit support. Our world has changed forever.

2002 – Eileen Cavanaugh, The Milford Bank elected Chairman. The world is still reeling from September 11th attack. Talk of war takes over the media. The world economy takes downturn. The Chamber and Westfield establish the Bruce Eagleson Memorial Scholarship in honor of Westfield’s Vice President killed in the World Trade Center attack. The city tightens its belt. Our internet website www.milfordct.com is launched in January with overwhelming success. Informational sessions are held at the Library to inform residents on Downtown Plan of Development. The Chamber opposes advertising bus shelters. Jai Alai puts its facility on the market. Again the chamber opposes changes in unemployment compensation reforms. A strategic plan retreat takes place at Great River Golf Club with the Board. Westfield seeks expansion of the mall. New sidewalks are obtained on River Street due to MPI. The chamber membership drive is held bringing in 108 new members in three days, bringing membership to 780 businesses. A first tourism guide produced and distributed by the Chamber. The city buys Milford Academy property due to efforts of Mayor James Richetelli.

2003 – Patrick Madden, General Manager of Westfield Shoppingtown Connecticut Post elected Chairman. National, regional and state awards are garnered. The Milford Chamber places as national finalist for the “Award of Excellence” in the small chamber division of the U.S. Chamber, American Chamber of Commerce Executives, National Association of Membership Development awards program. Kathleen Alagno, President & CEO is named New England Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year and the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year 2003. Nell Moll, Director of Membership, Opportunities and Enthusiasm, receives national award for ” Lifetime Achievement” in sales recognition. The Reverend Osmun addresses chamber on World Trade Center experiences. The war with Iraq begins. State begins budget cuts. Tourism districts takes budget cuts. Native Americans propose casinos in Bridgeport. The chamber supports the elimination or revision of prevailing wage. The Chamber Board has strategic planning session led by University of New Haven professor Dr. Abbas Nadim. Milford Progress led by Raymond Macaluso has completed phase one of new lamplights for the downtown, is working on a traffic plan and street signage plan. New regulations are being formulated for storefront signage with Planning & Zoning.

2004 – Glenn D. Beck,C.P.A. elected Chairman. Plans of implementation of the strategic plan are taking place. A new Membership Committee is being formed under the leadership of David Slossberg of Hurwitz, Sagarin & Slossberg. Thad Henry of University of New Haven is investigating the development of a small business education series. Milford Progress will continue to put in place short, mid and long-term plans led by Ray Macaluso of Westcott & Mapes. Cathy Gorman of Advanced Placement continues the leading of the Ambassadors. Legislative Action led by David Stahelski continues to fight for the repeal of prevailing wage, and present a petition with over 1500 signatures to our legislators on the need for accessibility and affordability of health care insurance. The BIC Golf Classic, chaired by Glenn Beck and Tom Boyle is entering it’s ninth year raising over 20K for scholarships for students and $5K for Mini Grants for Students. A membership drive is planned for the fall to increase our current membership of 725. Our 50th Anniversary Celebration plans include a Gala Event at Race Brook Country Club, the burying of a time Capsule to take place at the Oyster Festival and a 50’s style rock n’ roll dance to be held in the fall.

2005 – Lynda Smith Tellier, West Shore Realty elected Chairperson. A survey of business on their use of computers was done in conjunction with Quinnipiac University. A Milford on the Sea twin city relationship is being pursued with Milford, England. A Business Boot Camp program with Tom Maier was put together. Plans for internal renovation of the building were pursued. Walls were re-finished, walls painted. PMI installed internal walls. A Historic District was proposed and supported by the Downtown Milford Business Association, with the Chamber disagreeing. Legislative Action met frequently with Rep. Jim Amann, Speaker of the House. The special sewer district for the Center of Milford of 7500 gallons per acre has been expanded to match P&Z MCCCD Zone. Chamber supports keeping open submarine bases in Connecticut. A Strategic plan for the Chamber was reviewed with Dr. Abbas Nadim of the University of New Haven. Lamplights installation has begun downtown under the auspices with MPI. The BIC Golf Classic continued as a successful venture. A parking garage for downtown was discussed at length.

2006 – Raymond A. Macaluso of Westcott & Mapes selected Chairman…Week End Area Valet Shuttle continued again this year. Meetings held with downtown business owners on lamplights. A downtown traffic study is being proposed. Mini grants were awarded to students. A request was sent to Supt. Greg Firn to help establish an Education Foundation. Multiple trips were made to the Capitol on business issues. A membership drive was planned. A dinner dance “Captain’s Ball Cruise Night” was held at Villa Bianca. A Parking Task force was developed. Nine cases of donated goods were shipped to the Connecticut Marines in Iraq. Eleven firms were identified for a signage study. A Taste of the Chamber was held at the Shriner’s Hall.

2007 – Don Kanoff of the Milford Bank is elected Chairman. Estimates on repairing the fireplace were received, masonry and bad shape outside. Also repairs to be made to air conditioning in the building quotes received. Directory sales proceeding very well. Strategic plan is moving along, tourism brochure sales beginning and holiday ornament sales have begun. The Chamber Board supports the dredging of the Milford Harbor. Testimony given by Marshall Collins on behalf of the chamber in support of requiring a cost-benefit analysis prior to the implementation of a health care mandate. Parking Task Force meets with Chief Mello re bicycle officer, potential meter person and ticketing. Mary Ann Nilan is honored with the Human Service Award. The Open Doors of Milford by DMBA is supported for their first season, as well as second annual Pirate Festival. Legislative Action promotes Transparency in Health Insurance data. Beach party Bash held in June as fundraiser at Villa Bianca- great fun! BIC Golf Classic another major success. Fireworks at Westfield incredible event.

2008 – Tracey O’Brian, Marvin Display, Chairman. Chamber Board of Directors Retreat on strategic planning held at Milford Hospital. Chamber survey sent out to the general membership. Fireplace pointing completed. Tourism brochure completed to be used at Tourism Summit in New Haven. Met with DMBA on Wayfinding program. Fireworks at Westfield another success, as well as BIC golf tournament.

2009 – Attorney Stephen Studer, Berchem, Moses & Devlin, elected Chairman.
Chamber assists Navy 44 comes to Milford with (2) 44ft Naval vessels in Milford Harbor. Taylor Library Building undergoes improvements and mold remediation. Database reviewed for new software. Kimball Report (Land Use and Construction Permitting) submitted to the City. Legislative Agenda adopted urging a parking garage in downtown, supporting the Affordable Business Climate Senate Bill 495, oppose paid sick leave bill, opposes Captive Audience Meetings, and Card Check Bill. Hilton Hotel opens on Milford Jai Alai site, summer Camp Program MCCCI supports 75 children. Summer Concert Series continues. Southern CT Business Expo at Sacred Heart huge success. Chamber sponsor Cruise to Bermuda, BIC Golf Classic extremely successful. Chamber produces Pandemic Continuity Guide for Business in conjunction with Milford Health Department. Fireworks at Westfield is great event. Enjoyed “The Jersey Boys” Tribute Show at Mill River Country Club. Flu Clinic held at Chamber.

2010 – Attorney David Slossberg of Hurwitz, Sagarin & Slossberg elected Chairman. The Chamber produced a Restaurant Stimulus Raffle for the benefit of the Chamber Trust raising $7800. Chamber video produced. Small Business Institute produced by Milford Financial Network. Legislative Action opposes HB 5255 re local property taxes on new and existing equipment used to deliver broadband services. Series of meetings held with gubernatorial candidates Ned La Mont, Dan Malloy, Tom Foley. Career Fair Survey sent out. Chamber Database programs reviewed. Chamber members enjoy a cruise to the Western Mediterranean. BIC Golf Classic successful again. The Rat Pack Tribute Show takes place at Costa Azzurra a totally enjoyable event. Summer Concert Series continues. Most successful membership drive in chamber history with David Slossberg as chairpersons delivers 128 new members to the Chamber in a one month period during the campaign. Amazing!

2011 – Attorney Vincent Averaimo of the law firm of Kapusta, Otzel & Averaimo elected Chairman. Legislative Action Agenda adopted noting the deficit must be eliminated, employment benefits for public sector should reflect private sector, the tourism needs to be explored to generate funds, prevailing wage thresholds must be increased, and the state should become fiscally responsible. Business survey distributed to membership, Milford Childcare Consortium marks their 20th Anniversary. Tabletop at Grassy Hill a sellout. Governor Malloy addresses the business community at Schick. Summer Nights by Harbor Lights celebrates another successful year. Hurricane Irene hits Milford in August and destroys hundreds of homes. Murder Mystery-Gangsters in Love produced at Aldario’s Restaurant becomes a sellout. $2000 in Mini Grants Awarded to Students. $21,000 in Scholarships awarded. Health & Wellness Council produces Step by Step to a Healthier Milford Walking Program. Holiday Business After at the Milford Bank celebrates another successful year.

2012 – Elected is Harriet Haggerty of Shamrock Financial Services
Legislative Agenda is produced noting Connecticut needs to better control spending, avoid tax increases, avoid tax or legislative mandates that will increase cost drivers, focus on prioritized transportation issues, continue to fund vocational technical system, and ensure 21st century skills for our children, and developing a parking plan for downtown. $1750 awarded in Mini Grants to students for community projects. Chamber works with Alan Plattus of Yale Urban Design Workshop on downtown plan of development. Harrison’s Hardware sold. Revolutionary war cannon restored and place in Taylor Building front yard. The Chamber partners with Westfield in the “Save a Suit” program, that provides suits to veterans re-entering the the workforce. Eight Summer Concerts presented by Kapusta, Otzel & Averaimo. Chamber works with Housatonic Community College on potential programs to be offered in Milford. A Murder Mystery, “Wedding Bell Blues” presented to sellout crowd. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy devastates Milford coastline. Chamber assists with Transitional and Temporary Housing Committee to find housing for Milford residents displaced by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. Chamber Trust donated $20,000 to United Way to help support resident’s needs. Successful Milford Bank Holiday Business After Hours ends the year.

2013 – Darryl Zebrowski of Edward Jones Investments elected Chairman
Hurricane Sandy efforts continue. Affordable Health Care Act causes flurry in business markets. Legislative Agenda developed with opposition to budget cuts for hospitals. Chamber supports funding for School Service Resource Officers in light of 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy. Mayor Blake speaks at State of the City luncheon. New website begins to be developed. Membership Drive develops 40 new members. “The Rat Pack is Back” tribute show fundraiser is another success at Costa Azzurra Restaurant. The Chamber and the Downtown Milford Business Association partner to produce, Milford’s first, “Restaurant Week” featuring 25 restaurants to city accolades. Chamber takes cruise to Bahamas. Chamber works with state on educating business community on C-PACE (Connecticut Property Assessment Clean Energy) program. Summer Nights by Harbor Lights Concert Series has successful summer.

2014 – Scott Moulton, Capital Management Group elected.
Chamber Trust awards $21,500 at State of The City Address by Mayor Ben Blake. The City of Milford enjoys its 375th Anniversary this year with multiple venues. Legislative Action Committee meets with Rep. James Maroney regarding parking downtown, opposes SB249 State Run Retirement Plans. Rep. Rose sponsors Milford Welcomes Veterans Discount Program. BIC Golf Classic has another successful year, thanks to BIC. New website launched and new Chamber logo developed for a more contemporary look and feel. Summer Nights by Harbor Lights Summer Concert series sponsored by Kapusta, Otzel & Averaimo has wonderful year with record crowds. Milford Fun and Fit Day is produced by Milford Health & Wellness Council. Multi- Chamber expo takes place at Westfield sponsored by Connoisseur Radio. Chamber celebrates its 60th Anniversary with food and wine pairing dinner at Great River Country Club, featuring a diamond raffle and silent auction to raise funds. Our history, founders and chairpersons are honored in program book. The year ends with festive Business After Hours at the Milford Bank

Our special thanks to the following for their numerous hours of research and editing: Kathy Alagno, President & CEO of the Milford Chamber (the 90’s), Robert Gregory Director of Community and Economic Development of the City of Milford (the 80’s & 70’s), Linda Bouvier of Connecticut Kitchen Design (the 60’s), Gary Johnson of United Way (the 50’s). Gaps in history may be due to loss of records due to basement flooding.

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