MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach City Council voted Tuesday to move forward with an ambassador program for the downtown area.
The vote was 4-3 in favor of moving forward, with council members Jackie Hatley, Mike Lowder and Phil Render voting in the negative.
The program would hire employees to work in roles that handle situations many police officers currently have to deal with. Their responsibilities include first aid, crime prevention, outreach, cleaning and maintenance.
City leaders said the goal would be to make the downtown area cleaner and safer.
Under the proposal, the ambassadors would work from 7th Avenue South to 29th Avenue North, but councilman Mike Chestnut said during Tuesday’s meeting that he had heard from business owners on the south end of Myrtle Beach who would be interested in having ambassadors near them as well.
City leaders voted to move forward with the program under the assumption that they would expand the area to include more of the south end.
“This isn’t the answer to everything, but it’s a step forward,” councilman Gregg Smith said. "It may be a huge benefit to the area. It may be a small benefit to the area, but if we don’t try it, we’ll never know.”
The program would be a one-year trial period, and it would cost the city $500,000.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan said during the meeting that she had spoken with her counterparts in Columbia and Nashville, Tenn., which have similar programs, and she said her counterparts noted the programs have worked well there.
“We do not see this as a be-all-end-all solution," Riordan said. "We see this as one more tool in the toolbox that supplements the great work that our police department is doing downtown. We as a business community also want to step up and do more to help keep our downtown beautiful.”