Celebrating a rebuilding milestone: Panama City’s Highway 77 financial center now stronger than ever

Ben Lee, January 22, 2021

Walking through our Highway 77 financial center in Panama City today, you would never believe that two years ago the only remnant from the original building still standing was the bank vault.

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Hancock Whitney's Hwy 77 Financial Center is shown in the days following Hurricane Michael.

After Hurricane Michael, the third most intense hurricane to strike our country wreaked catastrophe along one of America’s most scenic coastlines, Hancock Whitney’s building was tattered. Like the entire Panama City community, we faced a long journey to rebuild and recover, but one we were ready to endure with a resilient spirit.

hancock whitney_panama city mobile unit-2Panama City associates worked from a temporary trailer on Hwy 77 for two years following Hurricane Michael.

After working out of a temporary financial center in the form of a trailer for two years, we recently had cause to celebrate—the re-opening of our brand new permanent Highway 77 location. Together with the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, Hancock Whitney leaders commemorated this milestone with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The newly re-opened financial center features a modern, open floor plan with many new advanced high-tech abilities, but still boasts the bank’s legacy of warm, 5-star service. The full-service banking space offers a drive-thru, as well lobby teller desks, a walk-up ATM, and offices for financial services professionals specializing in areas such as consumer, business and commercial banking; private banking; trust and investments; and mortgage services.

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Hancock Whitney Panama City Market President Ben Lee and the Bay County Chamber of Commerce unite for a COVID-friendly ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the reopening of the bank’s Highway 77 financial center.

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Community first

As the winds and water from Hurricane Michael were still subsiding, Hancock Whitney’s community outreach was already underway. From a $200,000 community relief donation, the distribution of hot meals and ice, to banking access at the hardest hit locations within 72 hours, we were there side-by-side, hand-in-hand, helping Bay County rebuild, renew, and thrive.

Associates from across our footprint traveled to Florida to help fellow associates and neighbors recover from the impacts of Hurricane Michael.

As relief turned into recovery, Hancock Whitney offered impacted Floridians special disaster recovery assistance loans and payment deferrals. Even more, our associates and clients across the footprint went above and beyond in helping make Christmas bright for children and families affected by Hurricane Michael’s devastation. Hancock Whitney was able to present checks and toy donations to several organizations in the Panama City area in late 2018.

Hancock Whitney presents donations to Anchorage Children’s Home to help spread holiday cheer following Hurricane Michael.

An all hands in rebuild

By the summer of 2019, we finalized plans for the rebuilding of our financial center on the same corner of Highway 77 and 23rd Street where the bank had been for 30-plus years.

Rather than a traditional groundbreaking, Hancock Whitney leaders, community dignitaries and guests traced their hands and left messages on the wall of the vault to signify being “all hands in” for the community on the road to recovery.

Traced hand prints cover the vault at our Highway 77 financial center symbolizing the Panama City community coming together to rebuild with all hands in.

In late 2020, nearly 18 months following the groundbreaking and two years removed from Michael’s destruction, the state-of-the-art Highway 77 financial center reopened, highlighting our team’s commitment to our clients and our community. To help celebrate the rebuilt financial center and honor the large role service members play locally, statewide, and nationally, we hosted a flag raising ceremony in honor of Veterans Day. City officials and local JROTC members joined Hancock Whitney associates to raise the American flag at the financial center for the very first time.

Joined by local service members, Hancock Whitney leaders raised the American flag at our rebuilt Highway 77 financial center on Veterans Day.

We’ve come a long way since Hurricane Michael, just as we’ve persevered through adversity for well over a century. Hurricane Michael and the post-storm journey is a reminder that while physical structures may change, Hancock Whitney’s legacy, rooted in tradition and commitment to service, are permanent fixtures in helping those we serve achieve their hopes and dreams.

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