Rochester Downtown Ambassador Pilot Program to Connect People to City Attractions and Amenities
Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) today announced plans to bring a pilot ambassador program to downtown Rochester. The program is in partnership with Visit Rochester, with support from Monroe County and the City of Rochester.
Once fully funded, the downtown ambassador pilot program will bring hospitality-focused guides to the downtown core to promote the area’s amenities and activities, and provide residents, workers, visitors and convention attendees with wayfinding and information.
“A downtown ambassador pilot program complements and builds on the great momentum in place in the downtown core today. This hospitality-focused program will offer another way for people in downtown Rochester to be connected to city attractions and amenities,” said Galin Brooks, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation President and CEO.
At its July 18 meeting, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA) approved providing the pilot downtown ambassador program with $300,000 in funding.
“I’m proud to invest in Downtown Rochester through County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency support for this new ambassador program. Our city is on the rise and we have a rich history, myriad local businesses and a thriving arts and culture scene,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “We want all of our visitors to know we are a warm, welcoming community with things to do and sights to see. By giving our guests and even our long-time residents directions, recommendations on spots to grab a bite to eat or the inside scoop on unique cultural events happening around town, these ambassadors will help ensure everyone who visits our city has the best experience possible, and leaves with positive memories and a desire to return.”
Rochester’s program would be similar to hospitality efforts found in other cities across the country, including as elements of programs offered in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, downtown Washington, D.C., Ithaca, N.Y., and others. The aim is to enhance the experience of everyone in downtown Rochester by providing positive engagements and connections for residents, workers, and visitors alike.
This is a pivotal moment for downtown: over the past two decades, there has been more than $2.5 billion in new investments in Rochester’s downtown and a surge of new residents. The city’s continued revitalization is apparent in the dozens of renovated or newly constructed buildings within the core including: The Metropolitan, Butler Till headquarters, Innovation Square, Sibley Square, VIDA Apartments, and the amazing new expansion at The Strong. Constellation Brands is moving its global headquarters from Victor to the Aqueduct Building on East Broad St., and the city’s ongoing ROC the Riverway redevelopment includes more than two dozen transformational projects along the Genesee River that showcase and enhance the city’s riverfront. Additionally, New York State has announced plans to create a new state park at High Falls.
“With all of the investment occurring downtown, now is the right time for partners to come together to connect people to all the amenities and attractions downtown Rochester has to offer,” said Mayor Malik D. Evans. “The city is the heart of the Greater Rochester region, and downtown is at the heart of the city. Collaborations like this one will help attract more people to downtown, which will encourage more growth and create a positive and productive cycle of prosperity.”
Currently, return-to-office numbers are hovering at 50% of pre-pandemic levels and foot traffic is approximately 30% lower than it was pre-pandemic. The downtown ambassador pilot program is designed to build on the vitality and vibrancy in downtown today and grow it into the future.
Downtown ambassadors will be a team of up to eight City of Rochester residents, recruited and specially trained to serve as welcoming, warm and knowledgeable guides to connect residents and visitors to the city’s attractions, amenities, and activities. Ambassadors, who will be employees of a proven vendor that specializes in downtown community service programs, will wear season-appropriate, green gear, and will travel by foot and bicycle. The vendor will be selected through a comprehensive RFP process.
Visit Rochester, the official tourism promotion agency for Monroe County, is partnering with RDDC and will provide hospitality and tourism training to the ambassador team, building on existing trainings Visit Rochester already provides to frontline employees in the hospitality and tourism industry. Visit Rochester will remain engaged on program coordination, helping to ensure ambassador presence during peak times and events that are occurring downtown.
“Welcoming interactions with downtown ambassadors will have a positive impact on the visitor experience downtown,” said Don Jeffries, President & CEO, Visit Rochester. “Visit Rochester works to bring more than 200 meetings, conventions and other events each year to downtown Rochester, including events at the Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. We look forward to working with the downtown ambassadors to engage with convention attendees, as well as leisure visitors and local residents exploring downtown’s many cultural attractions, restaurants and events.”