The Panhandle town of Havana recently won a Florida Main Street designation from the Department of State. Now the community is re-envisioning the future of its downtown.
Historically, the tobacco trade fueled Havana. When the industry dried up, so did many of the local businesses downtown. The Florida Main Street designation means the community can tap into grant money to revitalize the district. Tony Lombardo is leading the effort. He hopes the program will fill the vacuum left by the tobacco industry and the Great Recession.
“We’re just not putting enough feet on the street, if you will. There’s not enough tourists...community…visitors coming to the town to keep the economy strong. Main Street kinda opens up a new world for us,” Lombardo said.
He hopes to attract more businesses to the old tobacco town’s historic buildings.
“People today, many of them are tired of the strip malls, the big box stores. They kinda want to slow down and step back a little bit. And by coming to Havana you do that. Almost every business we have in downtown Havana is owned by a family!” he said.
The group is hosting its first public meeting on the future of downtown Havana on September 6th.