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.

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