LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The City of Long Beach is celebrating a retail renaissance. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the downtown is alive with new development and young entrepreneurs.
There's definitely been a transformation, especially along Jeff Davis Avenue, in the heart of downtown. Developer Billy Legier saw a unique opportunity for investment after the storm.
"About four years ago, we started construction here in downtown Long Beach. And what you can see behind me is the real results of a lot of hard work, a lot of determination, and a lot of pride on the part of Long Beach residents and entrepreneurs," said Legier, "We have a great group of tenants that have become a part of the Long Beach Town Center."
Sandra Boddie's Friendly City Yogurt has quickly become a favorite of locals and tourists.
"I knew that it would need to be somewhere I would feel comfortable and that was very pedestrian friendly. And I grew up in Long Beach. And it has been the perfect location for us," she explained.
It's an eclectic mix of retail downtown: An art gallery, a kite shop and a children's boutique.
"This is On A Roll Sushi in downtown Long Beach on Jeff Davis. 206 Jeff Davis," said restaurant owner Whitney Sartin.
Sartin loves her downtown location and post-Katrina transformation.
"To see what it was and now what it is. It's mind blowing. And I'm so proud," she said.
Speaking of before and after, a once rundown residential property is now an elegant day spa.
"We offer massages, facials, body treatments, manicure/pedicures. We have a full salon," said Teresa Hare, "Long Beach is the city that's growing and this is the perfect location in downtown Long Beach."
Many of the small retailers say they like the feel of what's happening here in downtown Long Beach. They also consider themselves an extended family with common goals for economic development.
"And we found that a lot of our tenants are young entrepreneurs, who are starting out in business for the very first time. And with the location such as the ones that we have here in downtown Long Beach, the town has really supported them," said Legier.