11 neighborhood shopping strips are getting guides to help businesses get back on their feet

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CHICAGO — Guides come to some of the city’s most popular shopping streets to help them attract customers and recover from the onset of the pandemic.

The city’s new Corridor Ambassador program will focus on hiring and training neighbors as guides to provide a “welcome presence” to passers-by, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. The ambassadors will work along 11 business corridors, greeting people and providing them with recommendations on parking, eating out and local activities.

The program aims to “improve the vitality and security of local trade corridors,” according to the city. The city is providing $5 million in grants for the first year of the program.

Ambassadors wear light-colored clothing and are available five to 12 hours a day, five to seven days a week, depending on the city. The program starts in June.

Ambassadors will also be trained to connect people affected by homelessness with city resources, according to the city.

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

The streets selected for the program are low- and middle-income shopping districts that the city said saw a 15 percent or more drop in activity after the pandemic began.

Each location will have six to twelve ambassadors, with two ambassadors working at the same time depending on 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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