Mayor says Milford on track to top 650 business openings in 2022

MILFORD — Business is booming in Milford, according to Mayor Ben Blake.

"New businesses seem to be growing exponentially," he said. "In 2020, we had 450 new businesses coming into Milford. In 2021 we had 650, and we are on track to break the 650 number in 2022."

Blake added the unemployment rate in Milford is 3.5 percent, compared to 11 percent during the pandemic.

"All those indicators are good news," he said. 

New businesses opening in the city range from art studios like the Giggling Pig to bakeries like Isabel's.

Makayla Silva opened Giggling Pig in May, deciding to fill a storefront in Milford's downtown while meeting what she called a desperate need for local children's programming.

The location was the second Giggling Pig location in Connecticut since Hannah Perry opened the original one on Center Street in Shelton 11 years ago.

"There is a strong need for children's programming in Milford, and we are trying to fill vacant space, so I talked to Hannah about bringing a Giggling Pig to Milford," Silva said. "It was then she said that with my background, I should open my own Giggling Pig."

She called the business opening a dream come true.

"I always had this vision. I just can't believe it is happening so fast," she said. "I know I could make it happen. I am so proud to be able to show my success to my children. If you focus and believe, you can make anything happen."

Isabel's Bakery and Restaurant is a Mexican bakery and restaurant in Milford's Devon Village.

The owners, Emiliano Dominguez and Toni Quintero, had intended to open last year, but because of COVID-19 guidelines, they had to wait nine months.

"The idea to open a restaurant here came to us about a year before we opened," said Dominguez. "We're glad that we are finally able to open fully, and we are excited to keep going."

Businesses also targeted one of Milford's biggest assets — its 17.5 miles of coastline.

"Walnut Beach Coffee House opened this year, as well as Pedal Cruise Boat that takes off from Milford Harbor opened this year," Blake said.

One of the largest businesses that came into Milford in 2022 was Athletic Brewing, which held its grand opening in Milford in June.

"They are on track to be one of the world's largest non-alcoholic breweries," Blake said. "They are canning millions of non-alcoholic beer that win all the taste tests."

The 150,000-square-foot facility is located at 75 Cascade Blvd., and according to co-founder Bill Shufelt, it would be capable of making more than 5 million cases a year.

"We looked everywhere from Massachusetts to North Carolina to Ohio when we were looking to open our new facility," said Shufelt. "We looked at everything from labor market analysis, property analysis, logistics and transpiration. But we chose Milford because of the support of the State of Connecticut and the business environment in the state."

Blake said Athletic Brewing doubled down on its investment in Milford when it received a $50 million investment from Keurig Dr. Pepper to grow its business.

Looking toward 2023, Blake said he expects to see more commercial development along Boston Post Road, some of which has already started.

"We are still on track to have a small grocer downtown like we used to have, adjacent to Railroad Avenue, and will feature additional underground parking to accommodate the grocer," he said. "That's on track to happen towards the end of 2023. So those are some of the commercial enhancements I see for next year."