SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With each sweep of a broom, Martin Dill is making downtown Sioux Falls a little tidier.
Keeping the streets and sidewalks clean is just one of the many tasks for a downtown Sioux Falls ambassador.
“It’s safety. It’s sanitation. It’s beautification,” Downtown ambassador Martin Dill said.
From watering flowers to answering visitors’ questions, the ambassadors help make the downtown area a more welcoming place.
“It’s very rewarding. It’s probably the best job I’ve ever had as far as how much I enjoy it,” Dill said.
Of course, the job isn’t exactly glamorous. It also comes with trash duty and occasionally removing graffiti.
“A big part of what we do is of course cleaning up dog waste and stuff like that. Every once in a while some of our revelers in the downtown have a little bit too much fun and sometimes leave us a little deposit of their merry-making on the sidewalk later, so things like that do happen,” Dill said.
The ambassadors also help people in need, such as the homeless, by connecting them with resources in town.
“In the past we’ve given people rides, maybe over to the Bishop Dudley or maybe up to the Link for a little nap and some detox,” Dill said.
The crew in red covers about a square mile.
No matter what brings you to the downtown area, the ambassadors are there to lend a hand.
“Whether they are a visitor, a resident, a business owner, or someone that’s maybe unhoused, there’s a lot of different stakeholders in downtown, so the ambassadors are there to serve as a first point of contact and even a liaison in many ways for the various stakeholders,” DTSF president Joe Batcheller said.
The downtown ambassador program launched in 2021.
Dill was the first ambassador.
Today there are five on the job, and there are plans to hire a few more.
“I try to explain to people, I’m like look, ‘It’s got some difficult parts. It’s not always easy, but your job is to basically work outside, walk around, and be nice to people,'” Dill said.
“Downtown can sometimes be an intimidating place for someone who comes from a small town. It can be maybe inhospitable for certain folks and this is a way for us to make it kinder, friendlier when they come downtown in many ways,” Batcheller said.
Nancy Savage owns Child’s Play Toys on Phillips Avenue.
She says the ambassadors are making a difference.
“I just love having them. We’re so lucky that we have them down here. It has been a huge change to the whole atmosphere downtown having them down here,” Child’s Play Toys owner Nancy Savage said.
“Your city center is kind of the heartbeat and lifeline of what you have going on in your town and we’ve got a great one,” Dill said.
The ambassador program is funded by the Downtown Sioux Falls Business Improvement District.
The ambassadors are contracted through a company called Block by Block.