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11 Neighborhood Shopping Strips Are Getting Guides To Help Businesses Bounce Back

More than 100 ambassadors will be hired to walk around local shopping districts. They'll greet passersby and give them recommendations about where to dine and shop.

Looking north at the intersection of 47th Street and Ashland Avenue in Back of the Yards on April 4, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Guides are coming to some of the city’s popular shopping strips to help them lure customers and bounce back after the pandemic slump.

The city’s new Corridor Ambassador program will focus on hiring and training neighbors as guides to provide a “welcome presence” for passersby, according to a Mayor’s Office news release. The ambassadors will work along 11 business corridors, greeting people and providing them with recommendations for parking, eating out and taking in local activities.

The program aims to “enhance the vitality and safety of local commercial corridors,” according to the city. The city will provide $5 million in grants for the first year of the program.

The ambassadors will wear bright clothing and will be available five to 12 hours per day, five to seven days per week, according to the city. The program will start in June.

The ambassadors will also be trained to connect people experiencing homelessness to city resources, according to the city.

Local community groups will receive funds to hire and manage the ambassadors. More than 100 ambassadors are expected to be hired across the 11 business corridors.

The streets selected for the program are low- and moderate-income shopping districts that saw a 15 percent or more decline in activity after the start of the pandemic, according to the city.

Each location will get six to 12 ambassadors, with two ambassadors working at the same time, according to the city.

Where the ambassadors will work, and their partners:

  • Ashland Avenue and 47th Street, with Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council.
  • 35th Street and King Drive, with Bright Star Community Outreach.
  • Michigan Avenue and 111th Street, with Calumet Area Industrial Development Commission.
  • 63rd and Halsted streets, with Centers for New Horizons.
  • East 79th Street, with the Greater Chatham Initiative.
  • Magnificent Mile, with the Magnificent Mile Association.
  • Belmont, Diversey, Fullerton and Grand avenues, with the Northwest Side Housing Center.
  • North Avenue in Humboldt Park, with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
  • West 79th Street in Auburn Gresham, with St. Sabina.
  • Broadway, Sheridan Road and Argyle Street, with Uptown United.
  • Madison Street and Pulaski Road, and Chicago Avenue, with the Westside Health Authority.

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