Community redevelopment areas see new businesses

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City is experiencing major job growth compared to Florida and the rest of the country. That’s according to AdvisorSmith, an online resource that pulled statistics from the United States Labor and Census data.

Downtown Panama City is seeing that particular growth and celebrating it.

Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency Program Manager Lena Webb is spending her week handing out dozens of baskets to welcome new businesses.

City officials said there are nearly 40 new businesses in the area. The area includes Downtown, Downtown North, Millville, and St. Andrews.

One of the team’s stops on its very long tour was MySpace Downtown, which opened just last month.

Office Manager Michelle Sparks said the move is filled with excitement.

“Every day I get an email, someone new that I don’t know. Someone is here today from Texas renting our conference room. Every day is a new day to see who is going to come in, just walk in,” Sparks said.

The rentable office space just one of the many new locations on your phone’s GPS.

“We’ve had lots of boutiques, great boutiques downtown that have opened up,” Webb said.

Down the street enters WILDgrace. Owner Kristen Wilson is going on six months being open. Being a local herself she wants to see her hometown flourish.

“I think that it’s nice to have something that about us and about our community and helping each other and supporting local businesses and making our town and our home better,” Wilson said.

It’s the positive response she’s received from the community that makes her encourage others to follow suit.

“It’s something that everyone wants and I think that if anyone is thinking about opening a business down here, do it. if it’s something you’re passionate about, share it and I think you’ll get a lot of support,” Wilson said.

You don’t necessarily need to bring a basket to each new business, employees just want you to bring yourself.

According to AdvisorSmith, from March 2019 to March 2021, Panama City saw a 0.7% percent job increase. Statewide, Florida lost 4.1% of its jobs.

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