MILFORD — The Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce has come back bigger and stronger in 2021 following shutdowns and cancellations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Milford-based business group held its annual members luncheon at Bibi’s Restaurant and Bar, where it delivered its annual report.
“We did what we had to do to make it work,” chamber Executive Director Jo Schmeiser said.
Since January, the chamber has gained 52 new members, for a total of 340. It has also held record-breaking events and has almost made some of its fundraising goals for the year.
“We are looking forward to getting back to the old normal and moving forward, but we continue to work and grow together,” Ms. Schmeiser said.
The Riverwalk Freedom Festival is Milford’s largest annual outdoor festival. The event, which is spread throughout the city’s downtown area, was created to commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We weren’t able to have the annual Riverwalk Freedom Festival last year, but this year it was the biggest ever,” Ms. Schmeiser said.
“We were awarded an event grant from the city of Milford, which made it possible to increase all areas of the festival,” Angel Hodges, president of the Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday.
The event raised more than $30,000, which allowed the chamber to make a $7,000 donation to the Milford Parks and Recreation Department and $150 donations to both the Carlisle and Memorial fire departments.
“It’s been challenging with COVID. Last year, we had to cancel the Riverwalk festival. That was a hard decision,” Ms. Hodges said.
Despite the challenges, the group has had a successful fundraising year so far.
In 2020, chamber leaders set a revenue goal, from its events, at $57,000. On Wednesday, Ms. Hodges announced that the group had raised $50,368 so far in 2021.
The Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce has a few more events on its calendar for this year, including the annual Tastes of Milford event set for Nov. 18 at the Milford Elks Lodge.
Wednesday’s luncheon also marked the unofficial midpoint of Ms. Hodges’ two-year term as president.
When asked what she was looking forward to during the rest of her term, which ends in December 2022, she said, “getting back to normal.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing more and more businesses open in this area. I’ve seen quite a few businesses open in just the last six months. I’m excited to see Milford growing. I think it has a lot of potential. I think it is growing fast.”