SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - You may notice some new people in uniform the next time you're walking around Downtown Savannah.
That's because the city's new ambassador program began Wednesday. It aims to make the downtown area safer and cleaner for locals and visitors alike.
The ambassadors were out from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., walking around downtown from Johnson Square to City Market and down to River Street. And they said the feedback thus far has been really positive.
"We're getting a tremendous response, really, it's crazy. A lot of people want to know who we are and what's going on," said Carroll Inglis, City Ambassador.
Inglis is one of the handful of ambassadors in the pilot program.
"It just makes your day very wonderful to help somebody else and help somebody enjoy our city," said Inglis.
This 12-week test run is a scaled-down version of the proposed Savannah Serves initiative, which would employ 40 to 50 ambassadors.
But for the next three weeks, about a dozen of them will cover a smaller area providing information to visitors, picking up trash, and listening to the concerns of business owners, who have been very receptive thus far.
"They've been like, 'Yes, this is what we need, this is what we've been waiting for, and we hope this implements change.' We have heard that across the board today," said McKinley Sartin, City Ambassador.
The ambassadors will be liaisons reporting everything they see directly to city officials.
"The more people that are on the street, the more of a presence that you have, the more of a deterrent it would be for anything that would be nefarious, shall I say," said Inglis.
One man was visiting from South America. Instead of just pointing him in the direction of River Street, the ambassadors escorted him there and shared tips and city history along the way.
He might pay for that service in another city.
"But if the city offers me that for free, then I absolutely appreciate it. And I feel welcomed into the city, so that's good," said Julio Aguilar, visiting Savannah.
All the ambassadors are full-time employees paid $15 an hour.
If the program becomes permanent, those salaries would be covered by a proposed $0.25 fee for any purchase over $10 at all downtown businesses.