KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A new program in downtown Kalamazoo is helping clean public spaces and serve as a resource for visitors.
It's called the Kalamazoo Downtown Ambassador Program.
In just the first two days of launching, the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership (KDP) said ambassadors picked up 4,800 pounds of trash.
While KDP said they're already seeing an impact, they're still expecting it to grow even more.
"The whole atmosphere will be more positive because of the ambassadors," said Dean Hauck, the owner of downtown business Michigan News Agency.
Hauck is the owner of the Michigan News Agency on Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo. She said the Kalamazoo Downtown Ambassador program will help change some of the perceptions of the area.
"What they’re doing to help other businesses is in cleaning up, straightening things and talking to the people," said Hauck.
"The ultimate goal of having the ambassador program is to create a downtown that is really clean, safe, welcoming for everyone. It’s just a base level for a downtown where everyone can gather and enjoy," said Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership Communications and Marketing Manager Meghan Behymer.
If you haven't seen them around yet, the ambassadors are easy to spot. They wear blue shirts and grey bottoms.
The five ambassador positions are funded through multiple community organizations to help clean and sanitize the downtown area.
"Especially as more growth is happening, more residents are moving in, the central commons refreshment area is now in place. There is now an increased need for maintenance throughout downtown and daily attention on it," said Behymer.
The ambassadors are also trained in hospitality and outreach services.
"It also is a real important way for Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership to help us all be successful in downtown Kalamazoo," said Hauck.
"They are being trained on the downtown area and everything that it has to offer, so being able to provide really good direction of where things are downtown and what people can expect when they get down there," said Behymer.
The ambassadors work seven days a week and serve the downtown area as late as 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.