Wilmington, NC (WWAY) More eyes and ears will help keep an eye on downtown Wilmington.

After nearly two year of planning, and several months afterWilmington City Council approved a new downtown Municipal Service District, new programs were unveiled to help grow the downtown area.

The MSD programs are being directed by Wilmington Downtown Incorporated (WDI).

One new service is an Ambassador team, which consists of a group of seven people. You will see them wearing bright orange shirts around downtown. They will walk around to give directions and referrals, escort workers, visitors, or residents to specific destinations, identify street light outages, address graffiti. According to a news release, the will provide a safety and security presence, along with additional cleaning for the area.

WDI contracted with Allied Universal to hire and manage the new Ambassador team and all members are certified through the North Carolina Private Protection Service Board.

The Ambassadors work Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Ambassadors can be reached by phone or text during operating hours at (910) 524.3600. They can also be found on the web at http://www.downtownambassador.com.

In addition to the Ambassador program, WDI also announced two new matching grant programs to help spur investment.

The Faade Improvement Grant program is designed to help renovate buildings and storefronts. Funds can be used for a range of improvements such as window repair or replacement, exterior painting, awnings, signs, lights and other similar work to the front of a building. The grant will award up to $2,500 of the total cost of the project on a matching basis. Funds will be awarded on a first come-first served basis and money is available for up to six projects.

The Landscaping Grant program is designed to encourage new planting areas to buffer or improve parking lots or vacant properties. This grant will provide up to $1,500 on a matching basis for irrigation, plants, fencing or other similar upgrades. Funds will also be awarded on a first come-first served basis and money is available to two projects.

Complete information and an application form for both the Faade Improvement Grant and the Landscaping Grant programs are available. Call the WDI office at (910) 763.7349 or visit http://www.wilmingtondowntown.com/msd.

The MSD has additional programs in the planning phase.

One project is examining physical enhancements with an emphasis on improving pedestrian safety and protecting the urban tree canopy. Another effort is underway to bolster marketing to better connect with area residents, workers, customers and visitors. WDI expects to announce additional MSD services in the coming months.

The programs announced today reflect the priorities of Downtown property owners, businesses and residents, said WDI Chair Tom Davis. The Ambassadors will be a resource and a re-assuring presence for people throughout the central business district and the new matching grant programs are designed to spur additional investment that can help property owners and small businesses within the MSD area, he said.

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New programs, including Ambassador team, launched in downtown Wilmington - WWAY NewsChannel 3

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