Delaware Leaders in Economic Development: Sara M. Bluhm, Economic Development and Community Engagement Administrator, City of Milford
May 10, 2022 –
Sara M. Bluhm knows Milford. The Milford High School graduate has served on the city’s planning commission and was president of Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI), part of the Main Street America program. Not only has she lived in the area for 20-plus years, but she also has the skills to promote it. Her undergraduate degree is in communications, and she earned a master’s degree in marketing.
So, when the city created an economic development position in 2021, Bluhm was the right person for the job.
What led you to your role, and what do you like most about it?
I was a volunteer on the city’s planning commission for four-and-a-half years, and it was eye-opening to see how the planning process works. I came to the table with that experience and with the skills I acquired working with DMI, a Main Street program with a four-point approach, including economic development.
With a degree in communications, I am comfortable with the community engagement side: I can tell the city’s story, and I feel privileged to do that. I also minored in graphic design.
And I love Milford. I’m super connected — I’ve lived in the area 23 years. I enjoy being a spokesperson, but I also enjoy working with people who share the same ultimate goal.
Which of Delaware’s attractive qualities helps spur economic development?
They say there are six degrees of separation between everyone, but in Delaware, I think it’s two — maybe one. There is a strong network of people and resources that you can tap to get your business started or to grow your business. That can go a long way in the business community. At a recent Delaware Prosperity Partnership meeting, Jamie Burke from Millsboro said he told someone in Ohio that Delaware had 57 municipalities in the state. The person replied that there were that many in his county. There’s a benefit to being a small state. We all work well together, and we all want to see growth.
What are some of the most compelling attributes of Milford and Central Delaware that site selectors should know?
Milford is right at the cross-section of state Route 1 and state Route 113, and Route 14 goes west to Baltimore and over the Bay Bridge. We are a hub on the Delmarva Peninsula. If a company is looking for a warehouse that is centrally located to stores on the Eastern Shore or in Delaware, Milford is a nice pocket for them to be in.
Then there is the quality of life. When my mom and I moved to Delaware, we picked Milford because we’re a half-hour from the beach and a half-hour from the capital in Dover. It’s convenient.
And Milford is growing. We have a new economic development website, GrowInMilford.com. We want to bring businesses here, and we want to keep businesses here. I can’t wait until we can sell off light industrial lots in our new Milford Corporate Center, and we have a lot of commercially zoned space in our comprehensive plan. There’s vacant land here that is available — we welcome the opportunity to show it all off to site selectors.