Posted 13 months ago in Trending
5 MIN READ -- Chicago Loop Alliance announced the expansion of the Chicago Loop Alliance Ambassadors Street Team, which patrols State Street in the Loop seven days a week. In addition to State Street, the ambassadors will provide a visible presence on key east and west streets, to welcome workers and visitors coming to the Loop on Metra. The ambassador program is contracted by Chicago Loop Alliance through Streetplus, a national business improvement district service.
“The implementation of these efforts to conduct community outreach and ensure the safety and enjoyment of all Loop visitors, residents, and workers will enhance the day-to-day experience for everyone in the Loop,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “Chicago Loop Alliance is committed to serving all members of our community fairly, and we believe these new initiatives will help us do so.”
The east-west expansion of the ambassador program is made possible through a partnership with World Business Chicago to help facilitate a positive return to the Loop. Ambassadors wear yellow and black uniforms and will provide directions; greet and engage visitors and workers; and assist individuals experiencing homelessness. This program is a supplement to the safety measures provided by Chicago Loop Alliance on State Street, offering a visible presence in an effort of violence prevention throughout the community.
"We are grateful for the continued investment of time and interest by Chicago’s business and civic community to ensure our city continues towards full recovery, including a greater return of interest and activity into our downtown business district,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “The expansion of the Chicago Loop Alliance’s Ambassador program will not only complement existing public safety programs but help enable more vibrancy and activity downtown.”
The Chicago Loop Alliance Ambassador program previously only serviced State Street Special Service Area #1-2015 (SSA #1-2015), which includes State Street from Ida B. Wells to Wacker Drive and select portions of Wabash Avenue and Dearborn Avenue. Those areas will continue receiving patrols through funding from SSA #1-2015.
Chicago Loop Alliance conceived an expansion of its Street Team in 2020, but this effort was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chicago Loop Alliance is now expanding of the ambassador program, along with an operations manager and social services outreach specialist to increase the presence of qualified clean, safety and community advocacy ambassadors throughout the Loop. With the creation of the new social services position, Chicago Loop Alliance attempts to effectively manage and strive for equitable resolutions that counteract the systemic injustices that affect a significant portion of the Loop community.
The social services outreach specialist position, the most recent addition to the program, will be filled by Octavion Thomas, a Chicago Loop Alliance Ambassador for more than seven years, who has spent much of that time managing the full Street Team and overseeing day-to-day operations, including snow removal, safety, homelessness outreach and community engagement. This work includes an outreach program which Thomas helped initiate in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurturing relationships with Harold Washington Library and Thresholds Homeless Outreach Program to advocate for those experiencing homelessness throughout the Loop. Thomas will now focus more exclusively on identifying and building positive relationships with persons on the street in need of services, helping people cope with challenges they are facing in their lives and connecting them with appropriate resources.
“Being Everyone’s Neighborhood means that the Chicago Loop is not only an economic hub of the city, but also a neighborhood that cares for the well-being of its citizens,” said Octavion Thomas, Social Services Outreach Specialist for Chicago Loop Alliance, contracted through Streetplus. “There are residents of the city that call the Loop home, suffering from a multitude of socioeconomic disadvantages, such as homelessness and poverty. The goal of my new position is to utilize and enhance the resources of the central business district to assist individuals with housing, mental health programs, and other social service opportunities.”
Additionally, Jerry Zollicoffer joined Chicago Loop Alliance and Streetplus as operations manager of the ambassador program in January 2022 and will serve as a representative among partners and organizations regarding cleanliness and safety in the Loop, and customer service largely along State Street. Zollicoffer is based in Chicago and works directly with the Street and Clean Teams in the Loop. He was born and raised on Chicago’s West Side and understands the importance of community engagement. His previous work with the Art Institute of Chicago makes him incredibly aware of the Loop institutions and organizations vital to the city’s economy.
Chicago Loop Alliance has also contracted HLSA Security to provide four unarmed private security officers patrolling State Street and part of the Loop for select hours over the weekends, including overnight monitoring. These mobile and foot-patrol officers will conduct business check-ins and ensure Loop workers and visitors safely commute to and from their destinations.
These collaborations with city organizations and partners will create a collective approach to safety and, in turn, help facilitate a boisterous recovery in the central business district.
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