MILFORD — Julie Nash, the city’s director of economic and community development, has been elected to the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s board of directors for its 2020-21 fiscal year.

Nash, who is responsible for obtaining and managing more than $20 million in grants for various city projects, said she is pleased to be able to help the CTCSB, which is the only sales organization and statewide marketing for meetings, conventions and sporting events.

“There are multiple layers of challenges,” Nash said. “We try to engage visitors who are here and help them with fun things to do in both Milford and Connecticut.”

Nash “brings extensive public affairs experience in dealing with local and state governments, as well as success in tourism outreach,” said Thomas Madden, president of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. “She will be a major asset to our organization as we work with Connecticut’s hospitality industry and business members to market our state to meeting planners and sports promoters across the United States.”

A big concern was money.

“The biggest issue for us is how do we navigate the right funding and make sure people get the right help, make sure they get the (loan) forgiveness that they need,” Nash said. . “We are pushing for more funding, like the manufacturing innovation fund which is now depleted.”

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund was created to support the growth, innovation and progress of the state’s advanced manufacturing sector. It is used to provide direct loans and/or grants as well as to support a range of initiatives.

“Manufacturing, retail, restaurants, everyone is in the same position,” Nash said. “It is very difficult to give the relief that people need. The bridge loan that came out in March, I think it was open for 4 days and then it was over. It went very quickly. Workforce development is down with manufacturing; we have to keep going because it really is the backbone of Connecticut.

Real estate is on the rise.

“With our rentals in Milford, people don’t do a lot of weeks or weekends, but stay all summer,” Nash said. “They’re not popping in a popping out. They stay long term.

“People are finding Connecticut,” she said. “Where they may have said ‘one day’, with COVID they say ‘we will go now’. People are coming here. The property market has been amazing from foreigners. In Milford houses are going in 24 hours, if that. They go well above the asking price and with multiple offers.

Bringing in new businesses and maintaining them is a challenge.

“Unfortunately some businesses in downtown Milford have not been able to survive this pandemic,” Nash said. “Some say they can’t survive this. Much of the financing obtained was associated with loans. People decided it was better to close than go into debt.

“But I’ve also had so many companies calling me to come to town. It’s like people (in this pandemic) are looking for new opportunities or looking to enjoy this time in a different way. I think they think, ‘If I have to start something new, I’ll do it now.’ »

During the pandemic, people are hunkering down and finding it easier to go online and have products delivered. Some companies are still managing, she said.

“I find these businesses that survive to be unique,” ​​Nash said. “You can’t go buy what they have to offer online. I’ve seen businesses in our community take off because they also went online to promote their stores and restaurants. The landlords told me that customers kept coming, even more than usual, because they wanted to make sure their place would survive. People want to take care of people and that’s nice to see in Milford.

COVID-19 pushed things faster in a direction it was already going.

“I think our biggest problem in Milford regarding real estate is the way people work now, they don’t need to go into an office. It was already going in that direction and COVID has only push more people home,” Nash said.

“People want to bring their business to Milford; we want them to come,” she said. “They call and say they need 25,000 square feet, there needs to be as much parking as the ceiling needs to be as high. Sometimes what they want just doesn’t exist here. It’s frustrating.

“I reached out to my colleagues in other cities to find a spot,” Nash said. “If they couldn’t come to Milford, I wanted them to move to Connecticut. Each region is different.

The work is demanding.

“Economic development is so stratified,” Nash said. “You can go from working on affordable housing, to development, to creating new events, to tourism. There are so many things to do every day. There are so many levels to help tweak things to help the town move forward.

Nash said more and more people are attending virtual development meetings.

“Because of COVID, I noticed that during our digital meeting, there are so many more people (nearly 100) attending the hearings than you might have already had a handful,” she said. declared. “I think it (going virtual) makes involvement and engagement more accessible. It’s encouraging.

Attracting millennials is important to Milford’s development, Nash noted.

“We were lucky to have this station downtown,” she said. “It makes Milford a place young people want to be. They can get on a train, go to work, come home and go to restaurants, go to department stores. This has been one of our priorities in recent years. The network of associations, public transport, job opportunities, beaches, city services (police, firefighters, sanitation) the overall quality of life, we are lucky to have all the pieces of the puzzle.

Nash went to Quinnipiac Law School, got a job in Hartford, and decided government work was best for her.

“I was born and raised in Milford, raising my family here and loving it,” Nash said. “When this position opened up it combined all my passions – Milford and being involved in government. Having a helping hand at the local level is wonderful. Working with Mayor (Ben) Blake is great because he gives you the space to run with your ideas, take something I’ve thought of and make it happen. I feel so lucky every day to be able to work here. It’s a dream job for me, that’s for sure. It’s been great growing over the past 6 years in this industry and doing what I can to help my hometown.

[email protected]; Twitter: @blox354

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