Louisville Metro awards $1 million in American Rescue Plan Funding to Block by Block to expand Ambassador program 

August 19, 2021

Louisville Metro Government announced today that Block by Block, a locally headquartered business that runs the Louisville Downtown Partnership’s Business Improvement District (BID) Ambassadors program, has been awarded a $1 million contract to expand the program’s scope, including a Waterfront Park expansion already under way.

The funding comes from the first round of American Rescue Plan (ARP) spending that Mayor Greg Fischer proposed and Metro Council approved in June. That round of spending, representing about $30 million of the city’s $388 million share of ARP funds, was focused on immediate and urgent challenges facing the city: COVID-19 related health needs; the housing, food, and utility instability experienced by vulnerable residents; and economic recovery.

“The work that the Ambassadors do is a key part of continuing our city’s economic momentum,” said Mayor Fischer. “From their work assisting businesses, visitors and others to their role keeping our city safe and clean, they truly are welcoming ambassadors for our community, and I’m pleased to see this effort be expanded.” 

Block by Block was the only respondent to the RFP looking to expand the current ambassador services to other commercial areas outside of just downtown. Block by Block’s first downtown ambassador program started in Louisville in 1995 and provides safety/hospitality and environmental maintenance services. The Waterfront expansion will cost $150,000; the remaining $850,000 of the ARP funding will be allocated for to-be-determined commercial corridors that are conducive to a high percentage of pedestrian activity, including mixed use, more on-street parking, higher retail density, etc., including areas with emerging markets.  

Services will include walking and bike patrols, as well as supplemental sidewalk cleaning, litter and debris removal, weed control, and communication with business owners, visitors, shoppers, workers and residents. Ambassadors also serve as a deterrent for unwanted activity and will communicate directly with all public safety agencies.

Metro Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9), who is also the Council’s budget committee chairman, said the expansion is a good tool in supporting economic development. “Increasing the Ambassador program, which can do so much to make neighborhoods clean, welcoming, and safe, is a step toward Louisville’s recovery from the pandemic and one which Metro Council was pleased to approve. We look forward to many more announcements about uses of American Rescue Plan funds.”

William P. Schreck, Interim Executive Director of Louisville Downtown Partnership said, “We look forward to expanding the Ambassador’s program, which for many years has served as a staple to the downtown landscape with its focus on hospitality. As people return back to their normal activities our Ambassadors will continue to make them feel welcome and safe as they enjoy our wonderful city.” 

Block by Block will assess commercial areas starting Monday, August 23, and will start hiring, training, and placing additional ambassadors. Based on the $850,000 budget, Block by Block will be able to create more than 500 weekly hours of ambassador presence in multiple locations.

Previous projects funded in the first round of ARP funding include those assisting residents facing eviction and difficulties paying their utility bills.

Mayor Fischer and Metro Council leaders last week outlined recommended priorities for the remaining $340 million share of federal ARP funding, focused on four areas: Homelessness and Affordable Housing, Workforce Development and Small Business, Healthy Louisville/Healthy Neighborhoods and Public Safety. A resolution on those priorities will be considered by a Metro Council committee tonight.

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