PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — The energy in Downtown Panama City has been low, especially since Hurricane Michael, but that is all about to change. 

Every day new, small businesses are opening up shop downtown, filling those vacant buildings and bringing the soul back to the heart of Panama City.  

Erica Mitchell is the co-owner of a newly opened coffee shop called “The Press Downtown.” She said everyone is ready for this for this new beginning.  

“I think that there is a new energy in downtown,” Mitchell said. “I know that people are really excited to see. They remember the way it was and then they saw it through its dead spell after Michael and I think they are really excited to see this wave of energy coming.” 

Mitchell said business is thriving and the response from the community is very positive. Customers like Katie Hitchcock said they like coming to the shop. She said Downtown is becoming the place to be. 

“It has really become a destination spot,” Hitchcock said. “You can come down here and get coffee, go next door and shop in some of the new local boutiques.”

Hitchcock came with her family to enjoy the coffee shop. She said she is excited to see the area coming back to life

“It is just going to continue to add more character to what is already down here,” Hitchcock said. 

“The Press” is just one of many new additions. Down the street there is a new boutique called “Wild Grace” and next door there will soon be a wine and art gallery mixed with a tattoo parlor called “Thistle and Thorne.”

On top of the booming business, Panama City Assistant City Manager Jared Jones said the city will begin its streetscape project in the coming months.

He said all of this combined will enhance economic development.

“It’s great,” Jones said. “The more variety of businesses that we have the more appealing it has to the general public and tourism alike.” 

The main goal of the city’s streetscape project is to make the downtown area more walkable. 

The plan is to widen the sidewalks to make more room for street vendors and make the driving lanes smaller and safer.