By virtue of his exploits on the basketball court at Darby-Colwyn High School in the mid-1970s, Marty Milligan earned the label of All-Delco.
By virtue of his professional career at two of Delaware County’s largest employers – Ridley Park’s Boeing and Newtown Square’s SAP – and his current position at the county’s tourism bureau, he deserves a new label: Mr. Delco.
As Destination Delco’s Vice President of Business Development, Milligan’s job is to tout the county’s many assets not only to the traveling masses but also the area’s residents. It’s a leadership position not unlike the one he inhabited as a point guard on a nearly undefeated scholastic team that won a district championship in 1976, his senior year.
“Delaware County has a lot to offer,” said Milligan, a Newtown Square resident who has occupied his position for 14 years. “We’re a more urbanized county. What we lack in open space we make up for in infrastructure, accessibility, and diversity.”
Formerly known as the Brandywine Conference and Visitors Bureau and anchored in Chadds Ford, the bureau changed its name to the more-appropriate Destination Delco five years ago, and moved its headquarters to Media, in the restored Rose Tree Tavern in Rose Tree Park.
“We were so far out of the mainstream of Delaware County, near the dividing line, that most of our visitors were coming from Delaware,” Milligan said. “Now, we’re in a better position to promote all of Delco, not just the western end like the Brandywine Battlefield or the Brandywine River Museum.”
When Milligan travels throughout Pennsylvania on business, he hears a familiar refrain regarding Delaware County.
“People are aware of our area because of our location on the main corridors of transportation, like I-95 and the Blue Route,” he said. “That infrastructure, that accessibility is a big play for visitors. Delco’s easy to get into and out of.”
And then there is Philadelphia International Airport and the Philadelphia Union.
“Two-thirds of a major international airport is located in Delaware County (in Tinicum Township),” said Milligan. “That creates a huge opportunity to draw the corporate, business folks to the region.
“And we also have a professional sports franchise.”
Milligan is one of eight employees at Destination Delco, which is funded by the county hotel occupancy tax.
Tore Fiore is Destination Delco’s Executive Director, Steve Byrne is Vice President of Operations, Barbara Lehman is Director of Communications, Marilyn Godshall is Director of Advertising, Edith Wood is the Welcome Center Manager, Amy Bohr is the Marketing Coordinator and Janis Kephart is an Administrative Assistant.
Destination Delco promotes Delaware County as a place where the people are diverse, the city melts away into the countryside, and its history is revolutionary. For marketing purposes, it views the county as having a personality so big that it has to be divided into five parts:
- Main Line (Haverford, Villanova, Wayne)
- Main Streets (communities like Broomall, Media, Springfield, and Swarthmore)
- Crossroads (Upper Darby, Lansdowne, and Yeadon where the international influence of being close to a major city is prevalent)
- Riverside (Ridley Park, Tinicum Township, Marcus Hook and Chester)
- Brandywine (Concord Twp., Chadds Ford Twp. and Glen Mills)
“Why limit ourselves to one experience when we have five experiences to share,” said Fiore.
“We are a small county land-wise, but we have a wealth of cultures, cuisines, languages, landscapes, and experiences,” said Mario Civera Jr., Chairman of Delaware County Council. “Who wouldn’t be proud to say they’re from Delco!”
Indeed, Milligan and his colleagues at Destination Delco have much to trumpet.