LOUMED Ambassadors make progress in first year

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Whether walking, biking, or driving a 22-block area a group of ambassadors are working to be the eyes and ears around a part of downtown that works 24/7.

Part of LOUMED’s mission is to invest in its Block by Block ambassadors, a team focused on helping maintain the area and improve safety or help visitors.

“We’re down here to help make people feel safe,” said Lamont Fleming, a LOUMED ambassador.

Anchored by Norton Healthcare, UofL Health, the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community & Technical College, LOUMED is a planned medical and education district covering a large section of the city’s downtown core.

“I know we are doing the best we can,” Fleming said. “We are doing the most we can to make this a safer environment down here, because its been tough but it’s gotten better and my team is working hard, our guys are working hard to make it so much better.”

Ambassadors are charged with tasks such as cleaning or picking up garbage, helping with directions or assisting people in and out of hospitals, greeting people and safety escorts.

In its first year, ambassadors have made 190 safety escorts, 3,000 hospitality assists, greeted 194,000 people, and picked up 37 tons of trash.

“People come out and sit out and eat now at places where they didn’t eat at,” Fleming said. “It’s not trash anymore because our team comes out several times a day and clean so they don’t have to see that all day.”

Their work isn’t going unnoticed.

Cathy Green spent 26 years working at Norton, and still frequents the area.

“It just looked like it wasn’t kept up or something, but then when I started to see those guys come around I was wondering at first what they’re doing but later on when I seen the difference in the area I realized, ‘oh so they must be cleaning and decorating or something’ and it looks a lot better,” said Green.

Ambassadors are just one part of LOUMED’s mission.

LOUMED, with $1.4 million in funding from the city, will tear down the Community Correctional Center to create LOUMED Commons, an urban park with green space and pedestrian-friendly areas.

LOUMED plans to acquire the site by October.

It also plans to reimagine an eight-block corridor along Chestnut Street.  Partnering with Metro Public Works, the project is in its planning phase, which has also received an additional $1.75 million from the city. The estimated timeline is 3-5 years.

In addition to city funding, the Kentucky state budget allocated $50 million to Louisville Metro Government for downtown revitalization, which includes the Chestnut Street project.

LOUMED said the area attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year and employs more than 16,000 people with total annual salaries surpassing $1 billion.

It stretches for 22 city blocks north to south from Liberty to Breckinridge Streets and west to east from 2nd to Clay Streets.